Tag Archives: The Chosen One

Writing a Book Together: Before the Beginning

This year I thought it might be interesting to write a book from scratch with you. From start to finish. Together.

Can we do that? I think we should try.

At this point, I don’t have anything to work on. There are only thoughts. No real facts or characters or ideas. No first lines. No plot points. No anything. I’m starting off fresh with you.

But in this moment I have learned something. Just now. Here it is:

  1. Sometimes, in order to come up with an idea, I have to write. Sit down and write.

Maybe it’s practice or muscle memory or training, but I can feel I am already headed in the right direction. I’m thinking.

Here’s what I’m thinking–I have an editor who’s interested in a romance from me. Could that be the novel I work on?

I’ve wondered for a long time if I might write a sequel to The Chosen One. That wouldn’t be fun, but it would be possible.

I could try my hand at fantasy. Hahahahahah! Okay. We all know that isn’t possible!

Here’s how I will decide: At the beginning of a novel, when I know absolutely nothing about it, I sit at my computer and stare off into the distance. This is when I’m hoping a character will introduce herself to me with a first line. So that’s what I plan on doing today. I’ll open a blank page on the computer and sit there.

Staring off into space is work! Daydreaming is something you can put on your novel writing resume!

Later today, I’ll sit around awhile and see who asks to be let in. See what she has to say. Maybe this book, whatever it’s going to be called, will come to me a little differently. If so, I’ll let you know.

How do you find that seed that grows into a novel? Are you inspired by history? People? Emotions? A first line? Something that happened to you? Something someone said? A creature? A bad dream? A kiss?

Let’s meet again tomorrow and see what we’ve come up with. I know for sure we’ll all do this writing experiment differently. Whatever I do is right for me and that’s mostly what I’ll talk about. But I’ll also see what published people are saying about their books and their writing. I’ll try to learn more about this crazy part of writing I’m calling Before the Beginning.

 

 

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Filed under Character, First Line, Plot

Be Very Afraid

So a week plus ago, Ann Dee and I sent in the book we wrote together to our agents. The rewrite. It’s ready for submission. Woot woot!

Before we started our project, way back when, we decided we would write something we had never done before.

We would take some risks.

We had three pages (maybe) of a dark dystopian with elements from history. (That we still need to write. And we will. I think.)

Then Ann Dee sent me a new beginning and we wrote a middle grade novel exactly like the things we would both write on our own.

I love it.

It’s hilarious. And sad. And delicious. There’s lots of talk of food.

(Ann Dee is one of the best writers in America. Yes, I believe that. How did I luck out getting to write with her?)

GingerBelle Co. That’s the title. For now.

For me, it seems perfect for a sequel.

And a sequel to this kind of book is exactly the kind of thing Ann Dee and I write.

We’ve spent plenty of time giggling about how we were going to write something different and how we did exactly what’s comfortable to both us.

 

As we got closer to the end of the novel, I started bugging the lady with the five babies under the age of four, about our next book.

We sent each other ideas.

Brainstormed.

Wondered out loud.

Went for a treat and talked.

“It has to be different than what we’d normally write,” Ann Dee kept saying.

And I kept saying, to every idea, “No. We write that already. We write that already.”

 

Why should it be different?

My dear friend, a writer I love and admire, Matthew J. Kirby, told me that I should write the book I’m afraid of. Matt knows I’m terrified to even think a thought that may include a fantasy element.

He’s right.

Fantasy? I can’t even think a fantastical thought. (And when I shared my one fantasy idea with Ann Dee she said, “My heart’s just not in that.” She wanted to laugh. I could tell.)

Fantasy is different for me.

It’s scary.

 

I’ve done it a few times. Written what I was afraid of: THE CHOSEN ONE.  GLIMPSE. THE HAVEN. Those topics all terrified me.

What happened when I let myself explore these scary ideas?

I ended up writing books in new ways. At least new ways for me.

That meant anguish. Fear. Tears. And some joy. Joy because I succeeded.

 

After going back and forth for about a month, throwing ideas at each other and keeping Matt’s suggestion to be afraid of the next thing we write, Ann Dee and I may have found it.

Our new project.

It’s absolutely terrifying.

Historical. A terrible time in history.

A different culture.

I’ve been thinking of this idea less than 24 hours and I am afraid of it. Really afraid of it.

But if we add a dose of what we love, things Ann Dee and I are comfortable with, we may be able to pull this off. Things like family. Love. Sisters. Humor. Sorrow.

 

So what absolutely frightens you?

I really want to know.

 

 

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Filed under Ann Dee, Character, CLW, Family, Life, Plot

LuAnn Brobst Staheli

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Many years ago I spoke at NCTE. After my presentation, a woman came up to me. She was full of life, had a loud voice,  and a terrific smile. “I’m LuAnn Staheli,” she said, “and I teach in Utah.” She went on to tell me that she read my novels and loved them. She was especially fond of If I Forget, You Remember as it reminded her of a family member.

I was so grateful to see a friendly face in Colorado. To have LuAnn approach me several times that weekend. To have her show me around. Let me know what I was supposed to do. She pointed out the famous people. We talked books. Writing. Teaching.

It goes without saying that LuAnn and I became fast friends.

What a pleasure to know her.

To know she loved me.

Over the years I have gone to LuAnn when I’m sad, happy and when I needed advice. LuAnn knew everything. About books. About writers. About writing. She had me visit her classes. We did a presentation together. She showed me how to save money. She tried to get me to talk more about myself and my books. And when The Chosen One was nominated for a Whitney Award, I asked if I could sit with her at the ceremony. “I would love to sit with you, Carol.”

By the way, The Whitney Awards are a fancy affair. I bought a dress. Wore a pushup bra.  Heels. Was completely out of my element.

Not LuAnn. She took me in, introduced me to everyone and before the announcement of who won in the YA category, she leaned close. “The girls look like they’re fighting to get free,” she said of my bosoms. I laughed and rearranged  ‘the girls’ right before I was called on to the stage as the YA winner.

LuAnn was ballsy. She spoke her mind about writing. She loved fiercely.

And I loved her right back.

I’ve known for a while my friend was sick and had a chance to go see her a couple weeks back.

We’d been keeping in touch on Facebook, but I needed to tell her, with my mouth, that I loved her.

That afternoon, I let her know  she was the 2015 mentor of the year for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers. We talked that maybe she could accept the award from home. That we could film her acceptance speech. That maybe she would be at the conference in June.

As she worsened, several friends and I prepared to go to her house this morning.

To award her and speak our love to her in front of her family.

Here’s what I would have read from Chris Crowe: LuAnn, thank you for being, not just a champion of good books for kids, but also for being a friend and supporter of education. Many of our graduates are now successful teachers because of you. We always knew we could count on you to provide our students with great experience.

From Ann Edwards Cannon–a blurb from her book The Shadow Brothers: “Everything in life changes. Everything. Seasons, styles, the two you grew up in, the people you know, even the way you feel about all the people you know. All those things change. In fact, change is about the only thing you can really count on. Still, it’s like Diana said the night I first heard her sing. You can still decide to care. You can decide to love someone even though they’ve changed. Maybe you can even learn to love them because of it.”

From illustrator Julie Olson: LuAnn, a fellow Spanish Fork writer, was one of the most kind-hearted and generous people with her talents and knowledge. I sincerely enjoyed working with her occasionally on the youth writer workshops at the jr high in town and greatly appreciated her support and friendship through the years. LuAnn truly made a difference.”

That didn’t happen.

LuAnn passed away last night, peacefully, at 2:18. All night I tossed and turned, waking at one point because I couldn’t breathe, worrying about my friend.

It’s been a hard few months.

And now here’s this writer without words.

Except–

This is what writing has done for me–given me friends that I will love forever. Sure. There are books and having them published is fun. But the best part of writing are the people I have met. My best friends. The people I am at home with.  The people who have changed me.

LuAnn. Thank you for your friendship. I was at home with you. You changed me. You are a part of me.

I will miss you terribly.

14 Comments

by | February 9, 2015 · 2:51 pm

Three Things Thursday–

From Brenda Bensch:
1. Yesterday I had lunch at the Olive Garden in Valley Fair Mall with 6 of my former debate students from Cyprus HS. They are now in, or quickly approaching, their 30’s. We’d done this two or three times before, but not in the last five years. It was good to see them, hear about their triumphs (there were many), their challenges (also, quite a few), and how they’re all doing now.
If you could invite 6 old friends to join you for lunch, who would they be? How far back do you go? How had you impacted their lives? How had they impacted yours? (On Facebook today I commented on how “loud” we all were. One of them answered that I’d taught them “to project”! Guilty.)
Write about an imaginary lunch with your former friends.
Write about your MC’s invitation to lunch. Who would s/he invite? What were the concomitant impacts of all on each other?
From Me
2. I looked up Top Romance Novels of all times and got titles like Pride and Prejudice, Outlander and Jane Eyre. But what are some terrific young adult romances? Perfect Chemistry, Anna and the French Kiss, and Beautiful Disaster were top books when I looked in that category. As I searched through the titles, I felt a little disheartened. Many seemed one dimensional.  I did see Fault in Our Stars. And lots of books by Utah authors (always a good thing). But many of the books weren’t what I would want to spend my time with. And I love a good romance.
And saw these words:  The romance novel or romantic novel is a literary genre.
After twisting things around in my head, I thought–‘We can write well-written love stories. Stories that aren’t only romance but life and good things and hard things and fun things, too. Where people change and the outcome is for better or worse.’
You know. Like Louise Plummer in some of her amazing young adult novels–which have romance in them for sure. But real life told well.
From Me and Ann Dee
3. So Ann Dee sent me a whole bunch of stuff that we should include in our romance stories.
For today– Write an opening scene with your main character.  Start the story on the day something new happens. Not something huge–necessarily. But something is different. In This is What I Did: Logan  is kicked in the balls at scouts. In The Chosen One, Kyra knows their is a family meeting that evening. Neither are huge events.
The new thing doesn’t have to be a life changer.
In this scene, let us learn a little of place, a lot about the character, and a little about who she is on the inside. Let us see her dealing with the new thing that has happened today. Take as much time as you need. Don’t go back and change anything.
Put this with your other three exercises.
Tonight when you go to bed, think about your new character, this new situation, what she wants and see if anything pops into your head. Make sure you have paper and pencil next to the table.

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Filed under Character, CLW, Exercises, three thing thursday, writing process