Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bewildered Release Week and Giveaway! Day 4: The Story Behind Bewildered

It's day FOUR, already?! This week is flying by! We've been all over the web--meeting new people like The Southern Tablet, Beth Barany, and Liz Schulte, and finding out about the world of Bewilderness, meeting the illustrator, Angie Kwon, and the editor, Ev Bishop, and now it's my turn...

A friend once told me that every story has a story. It's so true. Today, it's my turn to tell you about Bewildered. Not about the story within, but the story behind it.

I began writing Bewildered in November of 2012 as part of a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days—all during the month of November. At the time, I was struggling on a dark YA dystopian manuscript full of gruesome deaths and government conspiracy… and I was stuck. The NaNoWriMo challenge gave me the chance to take a breather and work on something totally different. Thus Bewildered was born.

The idea for the book hit me while sitting in traffic in August, GA. The car in front of me, a Ford Edge, combined with extreme boredom started a neurotransmitted "Super-Storm" wherein a ship fell over the edge of a mid-ocean waterfall and landed in another world. Essentially, melding my loves of Alice in Wonderland with the ocean in a watery rabbit hole—what? You don't think of pirates and imaginary worlds when you're staring into brake lights? I know I'm strange—it's ok.  Anyway, the first draft was named "Edge" and followed an unlikable girl (named Lula instead of Prudence) as she boarded the Unforgiven (then named the Silver Lady) and wound up 65,000 words of a wacky game called "What just happened?"

The rough draft was rough. In fact, I posted about it here. I had to give myself credit…I had done the previously unimagined—which is to say, wrote 65,000 words in one semi-cohesive tale with "the end" on the final page. But it needed a lot of work. So much, in fact, that I nearly tossed it in the trash. Luckily, a friend (thank you Shammy!) read it and convinced me to keep going, that it just needed editing.

Spoiler alert, I did keep going. But quickly gave up on editing what I had written—it was too messy to make sense of. Instead, I rewrote it. From page one. I put the 4-pound copy from Staples in a dark drawer to gather dust while I "retold" the story. A Purple Wizard became the old man with violet eyes, the Destiny Express surprised me, appearing in its magical splendor, and some of my favorite characters such as the Fabrikator and February walked onto the pages. Some elements persisted—Prudence always fell into Bewilderness, and the themes of the book: "believing isn't always seeing," and "trust the heart", were there from the start. In a page-by-page comparison, however, there was hardly anything left of the first draft. One of these days, I'll have to post a before and after comparison…

A lot of people ask if the book was plotted out before I started—and knowing it's the first in a series, I get asked if I know how it's going to end. The truth is: no. I don't have a clue. I believe that the story is there, and if I listen, it will reveal itself. More like the way an archeologist unearths an ancient city—the scenes unfold one at a time and always leave me guessing. Perhaps it would be easier if I plotted it out—I've tried actually—but in the end, the story never turns out the way I expect it too. My muse is stubborn that way.
The road was bumpy. Between fits of self-doubt, children jumping on my keyboard, and tons of shiny things to distract me, getting though the process took all my will power. And now, after all that, the cycle has started over again with book two…then three…then—well you get the idea. But you know, I love every moment of it!

Tomorrow is the last day of the Bewildered Release Tour! My friend and fellow author, Michelle Lowery Combs, will be posting a review and interview on her page tomorrow! The giveaway continues there too (one of the prizes is actually a paperback copy of her book, Heir to the Lamp!)

*the giveaway is at the bottom of the post: a l l  t h e  w a y  d o w n . . .*

Share the word! And from the bottom of my Paper Heart, thanks for reading, following, and sharing the news of Bewildered. 

A Bewilderness Tale, Book One

Prudence Parks is perfect. At twelve-years old, she has the world in her pocket. No messy friends. No silly games. Everything is just right—until her father leaves her an orphan. 

When she tumbles into a bizarre realm known as Bewilderness, nothing is as it should be. Insects talk, pirate ships sail on sand, and plants are just plain evil. After she’s banished for claiming to be human, she thinks the worst is behind her. She’s wrong. The Match King, posing as an ally, promises to send her home if she can find the Paper Heart, an ancient treasure. Battling her sense of logic all the while, she meets a living ragdoll and her father’s doppelganger, who melts her icy heart and—to her regret—gives the Match King perfect collateral to ensure she follows through. 

Prudence realizes the Match King’s plan to erase Bewilderness from existence, but now she must choose: save the world she has come to love, or find her way home.

BEWILDERED is a middle grade fantasy novel geared toward children ages 9-12. It’s Alice in Wonderland meets Miracle on 34th Street. Set once upon a time in a land far, far away, this story illustrates the importance of friendship, courage, and proves believing isn't always seeing.

Purchase it online at your favorite retailer, or visit your local bookstore!

About the Author

A. B. Harms was born a writer. From a young age, she made her own picture books with crayons and a stapler. As a teenager, she won essay contests. Yet, when she began her career, being an author was the last thing she considered. Finally, after working every job imaginable from waitress to social worker and earning her degree in Psychology, she realized what she was always meant to do--write!

A. B. is from Missouri, has gone around the world and back again, and now lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her family, a pet sloth, who resembles a Great Dane, and a black cat, who moonlights as an assassin. No matter where she hangs her hat, she finds herself at home down the rabbit hole.

And finally, what you've all been scrolling for... 


  1. I'm very intrigued by this book! I have a feeling my kids would love it!

    1. I hope they love it, and that if you read it, you do too! :-) Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Your book sounds so interesting, and even more special because your sister is a dear friend. Congrats!!!

    1. Thanks, I hope you decide to read it! My sister is the tops, isn't she? <3


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