WIP

Letters to characters

Dear Flyboy,
While I know you think you are doing a good of hiding what you are really feeling I think someone is going to figure you out pretty soon. Boy are you going to ticked when you find out who it is.

Dear Edna,
Arrested? Really? You ARE tough,

Dear Flyboy’s dad,
I don’t know if are ballsy or just plain dumb. For Flyboy’s sake, I hope it’s the second one.

Dear Girl,
Where ARE you? Or did you decide I didn’t really need you after all?

Signed,
Author relying on index cards in order to tell this story

Monday, January 19, 2009|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , |6 Comments

day 2

Day 2
337 words.

1 new log book entry.

An obsession with the Master Switch.

And 7 possible ways to begin the story.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008|Categories: Writing Process|Tags: , |0 Comments

day 1

Tried to post this before bed last night but couldn’t get into LJ.

Flyboy, day 1.
943 words.

Not all new words. I had two beginnings in two different notebooks so I was merging them as I typed them into the computer. Much of the airplane research has left my brain so I have had to leave lots of spaces with notes (describe this) (needs more details) (etc)

But it is a start. A chapter. I don’t think I have a voice yet but I have questions.

12/15 is the deadline to get this into for critiques at our local conference. I haven’t signed up for a critique there in oh, 10 years. I’m hoping it will be the prod to keep me moving on.

We’ll see.

 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008|Categories: Writing Life|Tags: , |6 Comments

Uhm, about those ideas I mentioned not having

Okay, so just about an hour or so ago I posted about not thinking about Plant Kid.

Well I take it back. I take it all back. My brain is racing now. 

This morning I read this lovely post by

 who is one of the truly good people fighting the good fight to take care of injured/orphaned wildlife. I am inspired by her (and her husband’s) dedication to their 24/7 job. She spoke of finding room for “just one more bird” who needed a little bit of help. That bird was a cowbird which is just a very interesting creature that I had been reading about last week doing some research for Plant Kid. I had never heard of it before (just learning about birds) and I tucked the name away as an interesting fact that I could maybe use. Then I read mirtlemist’s post and got a bit excited again about maybe using the research. 

Then I told myself to quit reading blogs, go get a new cup of chai and the get back to the ESL projects.

As is my way I go to the patio door at my office and look out and what should I see?

Cowbirds!  Four of them. I have NEVER seen them in the yard before. Ever.

Oh it is going to be so hard to get through June. I hope my subconscious continues to do some work for me.
 

Monday, May 26, 2008|Categories: Random|Tags: , , |19 Comments

characters write back

Dear Author,
I don’t know anything about a leather jacket but I did find a box. A box I don’t think I was supposed to find. And I am pissed off big time about what I found inside.

I’m not really sure what to do about it. It’s times like this I really wish I had a mom or a sister or someone that I could talk to about this stuff. I’m really sick and tired of people telling me to be grateful for what I’ve got because crap, there are a lot of things I don’t have or know that are more important to me than what I do. But I’m a kid and I’m not supposed to think like that. I’m supposed to suck it up and be happy I’m not in some foster home or living on the street or off in some foreign country with bombs going off all around me.

Well screw all that. I’m 16 years old and I’m self-centered spoiled brat.

Deal with it.

Signed,
Flyboy

 

Dear Author,
Mr. Mac gave me one of his mini lectures the other day. This one was on plants that go along for hundreds of years thinking they’re called one thing and then wham, they wake up in the morning and they’re called something else. Did you know they could do genetic testing on plants, like a DNA test they do on people to find out if they’re related? Anyway, Mr. Mac says while it might be nice to know which plant is related to another one it really doesn’t make any difference to the plant. It’s either gonna grow or not grow and calling it something different isn’t going to change a thing.

Signed,
Plant kid

Dear Author,
When I was a little kid, I mean really little, I used to think that going for a ride in the car was this great big adventure. Even if all my mom or dad was going to do was race down to the quick mart for diapers for my sister, I wanted to go. I was good at pretending we were heading for the moon instead.

I was pretty good at getting my way too. I had the cute face and the pouting face and the please don’t you know I’m the best kid in the entire world face down to a science. It was all in the timing. Ask too soon and the answer would still be no. Ask too early and my mom would tell me to quit being a goofball. But if I asked just right I had a pretty good chance of making one of them say yes.

Now I’ve just got one face. It’s just the here I am what do you want me to do now kind of face. Nothing special.

And I don’t ask anyone for anything anymore.

Signed,
Frankie

Thursday, May 8, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , |4 Comments

Sometimes it just all comes together

Even when you don’t know where you are going with a book, sometimes the universe rewards your persistence with a bit of serendipity. Not in a big way, like having an actual plot, but in a small way where there are connections in a story that you know will mean something else, something big, later on. As soon as you figure it out.

Early today I was working on my character letters. I had one from Flyboy and one from Frankie but Plant Kid was being a little quiet. So then I started wondering about Mr. Mac and if there was some kind plant advice he could give Plant Kid that might help me out.

Like many writers, my brain is working on several levels at once. On some other level I remembered a recent discussion on my California Native Plants listserv about how botanists will sometime reclassify plants for one reason or another. (Can’t remember the details so this is more research for me.) Normally I don’t remember those sorts of notes on the list because heck, I can’t hardly ever remember the latin names, let alone the genus/nomenclature /etc. But this one stuck because it was about one of my favorite shrubs, Sambus Mexicana. (Why is it one of my favorites? Beautiful and huge wildlife value.)

Anyway, in an earlier letter conversation with plant kid he had asked me about his living situation and the response that evolved felt right and true to the path the story was taking. At that time I had illumination #1, what if . . . ? (Sorry, can’t tell you that. It would be a major spoiler.) When it came time to write another letter I had been thinking about him in school and wondering what he would be doing which led to illumination #2 (which I also can’t tell you but which is mentioned somewhat in a recent letter.)

Which leads me to illumination #3 and brings me back to the letter I was working on today and the advice from Mr. Mac. I was trying to figure out how or even if Mr. Mac would explain about reclassifying plants and suddenly my brain did the math: #1 + #2 + #3 = serendipity. They were all connected. In a small way. In a plant way. In an organic way. In a way that I believe will become a major thread in the story.

Personally, I don’t think I would have made these same connections if I weren’t doing the character letters. Yes, I might have made different connections but these are the connections that get me all fired up. I mean, I got those shivers you get when you know, and I mean KNOW, it’s a good idea.

Which leads me back to the title of the post.

Sometimes it just all comes together.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008|Categories: Writing Process|Tags: , , |17 Comments

Letters to Characters

Dear Flyboy,
Find the leather jacket. That’s all I can tell you right now and you probably won’t like me very much when you do but trust me, you need to find the leather jacket.

Signed,
Author who knows the secret

Dear Plant kid,
That new project at school, the family tree. Sorry. I’d like to tell you that it will all work out just fine but honestly, I haven’t a clue.

Signed,
Author with questions of her own

Deat Frankie,
We are at an absolute stop. I mean it. A complete and utter stop until you fess up and tell me what happened to your sister. I mean what REALLY happened. Not what you keep telling everyone else.

Signed,
Author sitting in the dark

Tuesday, May 6, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , |4 Comments

Characters talk back

Dear Author Who Should Have Known Better,
Remembering things I care about is easy. It’s all that other useless crap that’s hard. Tell me how diagramming sentences or conjugating French verbs is ever going to help me fly a plane? When I’m flying, I don’t much care how clean my room is or whether or not I made the bed. It doesn’t matter. Nothing else matters. Just flying.

About the dog. There’s always a dog.  Haven’t you figured that out yet? Madison, Zero, Max, Guster, Fuzzbucket and Baron. There’s probably more. But there’s always a dog.

Signed, 
Flyboy

Dear Needy Author,
I need lots of things. I need to know why my mom never talked about my siser but why she sent me here to live just before she died but I probably never will on account of the fact that my mom is dead now. I need to know all the things Mr. Mac knows about native plants but I probably never will on account of that thing that happened that started the whole story in the first place. I need to fit somewhere, anywhere. I’m tried of being told to "bloom wherever I’m planted" because planting something means setting down roots and roots tie you to something, someone and near as I can figure, I’m not tied to anything.

No roots makes it kind of hard to stand up for anything at all.

Signed, 
Plant kid

Dear Nosy Author,
The trouble with little sisters is they’re so darn cute all the time. Or they think they are. Or everyone around you thinks they are.  Do you have any idea how many times someone pushed me out of the way so they could get to her and go gaga over her stupid baby noises?  

Lots of times it’s the same thing with dogs. But different. Or maybe it’s me that’s different now. I won’t make the same mistake with Max that I made with my little sister.

Of course I probably won’t get the chance, either.

Signed, 
Frankie

Thursday, April 10, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Letters to characters

Dear Flyboy,
When did you get so smart?

Yes, writing about you will help me but what I am supposed to do when the siren goes off and there’s no one in the seat next to me to bring me out of the spin before I crash?

No, don’t answer that.

Instead, tell me how it is that you can remember what all those lights and dials and meters mean on the dashboard of an airplane, you can calculate things like the weight of fuel and passengers and and baggage how it effects lift-off and landings, you can plot a long cross-country flight that will take you an entire day and 3 fuel stops,  but you can’t remember to feed the dog?

Signed,
Author who didn’t even know you had a dog

Dear Plant Kid,
Your voice changed. You’re no longer the thoughtful, introspective kid I’ve been writing about and I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I’m trying not to think about it but I can’t help it. I noticed it a little in the Teaser Tuesday post and now I am wondering if there’s a smart aleck trying to get out. Oh gosh I hope not. I can’t do smart aleck. Not for a whole book. And I don’t see a smart aleck as being the nature nurturing soul that I thought you were.

Maybe it will be different once you’ve finished composting.

If I work on your book I am saying that I trust myself enough to write a book that has no plot, no problem, no purpose with the hope that those needed pieces will appear by the time I reach the end. I don’t know if I trust you that much. I already know you don’t care. I already know that you don’t need me as much as I need you. And maybe that’s part of the problem. You don’t need me at all. Flyboy needs me. Frankie and Max need me. But, you’re so darn self-sufficient that you don’t need me or Mr. Mac or your sister or anyone. I don’t know how old you are but you’ve already got more control of your life than I can ever hope to find.

There are lots of things you don’t know but you don’t even care that you don’t know them.

Signed,
Author who needs to be needed

 

Dear Frankie,
At last, you have a NAME! I’m so happy. I’ve been wondering if it might be you but I’ve been a bit afraid of going back to your story. I mean, the stuff that happens to Max is bad enough but the stuff with your sister . . . <gulp> Even as backstory it’s not going to be pretty or fun. I’ve seen books written about the sort of thing that happened to your sister and I’ve seen books written about the sort of thing that happens to Max. How can I make it different?

Of course here is where I start to second guess myself. Maybe it is all going to be too icky and depressing and maybe people don’t want to read about that kind of stuff. Or not anymore. I can psych myself out by reading articles about too many depressing stories for kids today or why can’t there be any happy families in children’s books. The more I read those sorts of things the less I think anyone wants to hear about your story. And I can’t help but wonder if dark, hard hitting books with issues at the core, are they the kind of books that people reread again and again? I’m thinking maybe not.

I know you said you didn’t want to talk about it but you know we have to. Now is as good a time as any. Frankie, tell me about your sister.

Signed,
Author stocking up on tissues

Friday, April 4, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |7 Comments

Letters to characters

Dear Author Who Isn’t Really Empty,
I know how you feel. I know, people say that all the time but really, I know just how you feel. I remember when my CFI had me try a stall for the first time. It was a good flying day, clear sky, no wind. The 152 was humming along. Okay, humming is too nice a word. Flying in the 152 is like being locked in a metal shed with a lawnmower going full blast. But that’s okay. I liked the noise. I liked that I had to concentrate on the voice in the headset for any directions from my CFI in the seat next to me. I liked feeling the power of plane vibrate all around me. With my hands on the yoke and my feet on the rudders I could feel the airplane hum up from my fingertips and down to my toes. It made my whole body come alive. It made me FEEL alive. 

Stall practice was the only time I’ve been flying that I felt like I might need a barf bag. 

First we were drifting then all at once the stall horn blared and the right wing dropped. I thought for sure we were going to go into a spin and I was praying my CFI would be able to yank us out of it before we crashed. 

Maybe you think my CFI was crazy to have me do something that sounds so dangerous but the way he explained it to me made sense. He said you do stalls in practice so you can avoid them in real life. 

So maybe writing my story is like stall practice for you. 

What do you think?

Signed,
Flyboy

Dear Author With Too Many Ideas,

No problem, I understand. I’m composting right now. 

Signed,
Plant kid

Dear Author Putting 2 + 2 Together, 

The answer is yes.
But please don’t ask me to talk about my sister yet. I’m not ready.

Signed,
Frankie

Monday, March 31, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |6 Comments

Character letters

Dear Flyboy,

You made me cry. I was okay until I got to the last couple of lines of your letter where you said:

I need you.
Isn’t that enough?

And suddenly I was sitting at my desk bawling like a little kid. Do you know how many people I’ve said that to in my life? Do you know how many of them never said "yes?" Maybe it’s all this therapy I’m doing lately or maybe I’m just finally peeling away enough of the layers of myself that I can see you there, waiting for me to find you. It’s going to be so hard to write your story because yes, you are me.

You are the me that never knew my father and was always afraid to ask anyone any questions about him. You are the me that is filled with hundreds of questions about why I do the things I do and wondering if anyone else ever felt the same way I feel right this moment. You are the me that questions who makes us what we are, heredity or environment or some combination of the two. You are the me that doesn’t laugh out loud and is always afraid of looking silly in front of other people. You are the me that is sure I am the only one in the entire history of the universe who ever did something wrong and can’t forgive themselves for it.

To write your story means to lay myself wide open to feeling everything you feel.  It means actually allowing myself to FEEL. Do you know how many years I have spent not feeling things? Sigh. I suppose you do. Your story is going to rip me up in a lot of ways and what if I can’t put myself back together again? You will turn me inside out and then everyone will be able to see who I really am and then, well, and then they might all turn away.

If I put myself out there for you like that and then your story falls apart, I don’t know if I can handle it.

But I think the hardest thing about your story, the very hardest thing about writing your story, is that by the end of the book you are going to understand where you came from and what made you the person you are today. You are going to get answers to all those questions you jot down in that notebook you hide in your flight bag. You, Flyboy, are going to get to know all about your dad.

And me, I never will.

Signed,
Author with a hole in her heart

 

Dear Plant Kid,

I love writing about you and I love sharing plant knowledge but I really really need to know what you want. I have no title for your story, no names for most of the people in your story, no idea what your story is about and absolutely no idea what the point of the whole story is.

What do you want more than anything else in the world? Why can’t you have it? What’s getting in your way? What would happen if you got your deepest wish?

All the roses and oranges and friends and favors you do for Mr. Mac don’t amount to a hill of beans if you can’t make me want something for you.

Signed,
Author moving you to the bottom of the list, for now

 

Dear Lost boy,
I understand. Really I do. I want to remind that I did share the beginning of YOUR story in my Teaser Tuesday. I haven’t done that for anyone else yet. I think you and Flyboy are neck and neck. I know more about his story than I do yours but I know more about yours than I do Plant kid’s story.

There’s another thing I’ve been thinking about with you. There’s this kid who used to talk to me. His name was Frankie. Frankie grabbed me by the throat when I was driving one day and wanted to tell me about some terrible things. He had a sister. A sister with a secret. I saw Frankie’s house and I saw where his mom worked and I saw a bunch of not-so-pretty things in Frankie’s life. The last time I saw Frankie he was running, fast, away from something or someone. He hasn’t spoken to me for over a year. Maybe longer.

Now I can’t help but wonder, are you Frankie?

Signed,
Author who needs to read through her old notebooks
 

Thursday, March 27, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |15 Comments

Letters to characters

Dear Author Who Can’t Make Up Her Mind,
I’m going to tell you some things you already know and if it sounds like it’s coming from you and not from me, remember how much of yourself you have poured into me.

I am you. I am the insecure, can’t make his mind, why doesn’t anyone love me you. I am the you who doesn’t understand you are afraid to let people know how you feel, why you worry so much about what they will see in you and why you put up a wall that keep people at a distance. I am the you who can’t sleep because of worrying all the time. I am the you who wants a family and doesn’t feel like they deserve it.

Keep that in mind when it comes to telling my story. Trust yourself.

I need you to tell the truth about me because I’m too afraid to do it for myself. I need you to explain to people how I really feel about what my mother did and what I really remember about my dad. I need you to find a way to support me so that people don’t freak out when they hear the whole story.

I need you.

Isn’t that enough?

Signed,
Flyboy

Dear Insecure Author,
My sister? You know I think I remember my mom talking about a sister. They had a fight about something a long time ago, right after I was born and she went away and I stayed behind. I bet she wasn’t so thrilled to see me show up on her doorstep after mom died, was she?

I do like the attic bedroom. I like being able to open the window and reach right out and pluck an orange off the tree. I like the way the mourning doves gather on the roof of the garage and peck around at the scraps of bread I throw out for them. I’m not so crazy about the way the stairs go straight up and the railing is a little wobbly. I’m afraid I’m going to fall and land at the bottom of the stairs on that metal grate for the furnace.

I’m mostly okay just hanging out with Mr. Mac and learning from him but I’m thinking me and my sister don’t have a lot to say (except for when she’s yelling at me.) I could use a friend my own age. Think you could work on that for me? There’s this one kid at school, Benny, who seems okay. We worked together on the science project and he didn’t think my worms were stupid at all. There’s Alison too, but she’s a girl and I don’t want her to think I like her special like. Besides, her dad is the one with all those fancy roses so maybe I better not have much to do with her.

Signed,
Plant kid

Dear Person Who Keeps Ignoring Me Even Though Everyone Says You Should Be Writing About Me First, 

I am not talking to you anymore.
Not at all.
No.

I am not even going to tell you about what happened when I went to see Max.

Signed,
Lost boy 

 

Monday, March 24, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |4 Comments

Character letters

Dear Flyboy,
Remember that grandfather you had that I said was the reason you were moving and then I killed him because everyone convinced me there were too many people in the book? Remember him?

Well I don’t think he’s dead.

Signed,
Author returning to her original idea

Dear Plant kid,
You’re right and I’m wrong. There, does that make you feel better? I hate it when I give my power away and that’s exactly what I did. I am a social writer and I love LOVE LOVE talking about my books before they are actually books. I love to brainstorm and bounce things off of trusted friends. But the one thing I forget is that ideas are fragile and I need feedback that comes from a loving place.

I think part of the problem is that I don’t have anyone to talk to about your book or any of the other books I am working on. I’ve lost my brainstorming partners so except for talking to you here, there’s really no one else who wants to listen to me try on plots for size or help me figure out the motivation behind a certain character’s actions.

I know writing is a lonely business but I need to talk to some people about you sometimes, someone other than you. You should know that I have been thinking about you lately and where you live. I think it’s your sister, a sister you hadn’t seen in a long time for some reason. And the house looks a lot like the one I grew up in. How do you feel about an attic bedroom?

Signed,
Author grateful for second chances

Dear lost boy,
I’m sorry. I’m sure it’s all my fault so go ahead and rant at me if you want.  All things considered, when you think about what went on that night on the OTHER side of the door, maybe being wet and cold and hungry was better after all?

What do you think?

Signed,
Author who hates hurting characters she loves

Wednesday, March 19, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |13 Comments

Characters talk back

Dear Author,
If I’m made up of pieces of you (looking for that reader connection you love to talk about so much) is it any wonder that I’m a serious kid? How much time did you spend when you were my age laughing and having fun and how much time did you spend in your room worrying about things you couldn’t change? If you don’t like what you see in me maybe you better quit using me as a mirror.

I can’t remember the first time I went flying. Or the second or the third or many times after that. My dad, my NOW dad, told me that my real dad used to strap my carseat in the seat of the big P and take me just about everywhere with him, except for when he was filming. I think I remember flying somewhere for Christmas. I wanted to go to the North Pole and see Santa Claus and we went somewhere where the snow was piled up high on each side of the runway and there was barely enough room for the big P to touch down without jamming a wing into a snowdrift. We never found Santa but I remember drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows in some old shack while we waited for the weather to clear and listening to my dad play hangar trivia with his friends.

How does flying make me feel? How does writing make YOU feel? Flying makes me feel like I am alive and free and capable of doing almost anything, of being almost anything, even a good kid.

Signed,
Flyboy

 

Dear Author Who Let Someone Intimidate Her Away From My Story,
You tell me to find my own way and when I do, you get mad. You shouldn’t talk about me. Not yet. You’re not ready. That much is obvious. Yes, plants are boring to some people. There’s so much that takes place underground and now you’ve let someone convince you that you don’t have the skills to bring my story to the surface.

Maybe I was wrong to trust you with it.

But here’s the thing, Mr. Mac says that sometimes we have to give people second and third chances. Sometimes even more chances than that because if you do that enough, well people will surprise you. But you have to believe they’re going to surprise you. If you don’t believe then it doesn’t matter if you tell my story or not.

Signed,
Plant kid

 

Dear Author,
Today was a good day and then a bad day and then a really, really bad day.

I went to see my dad and told him all about Max and everything that’s been going on. Then I went to see the gypsy lady but I got lost and ended up on the east side after dark. This big kid chased me for the longest time, I guess he thought I had some money (ha!) but I finally lost him. When I got home my mom had locked the front door and wouldn’t let me so I spent the night on the front porch. No dinner, of course.

Signed,
Kid who still has no name

PS – it was raining.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |4 Comments

My brain is too full

Of people, or characters, to be most specific. Having been NOT writing for so long and then writing again, all sorts of long forgotten characters are talking again. I need to remind myself to focus on the three projects at hand. 

So I have to say a few things to the other characters in my head:

Dear Kid on the boat,
Ships moved much slower back then and I have lots of time before you reach ground and I have to worry about you. Can you please just go talk to your grandfather or practice your English but for now, leave me alone! I don’t have time for you.

Dear Kid with the musical inclinations,
Patience please. Practice your scales when no one is home. Do not, repeat, DO NOT, go anywhere near the house across the street. I’m not ready for that yet.

Dear Kid with mother issues.
I am SO not Catholic and not ready to take on the church. 

Dear kid headed for disaster,
Bring peanut butter. That’s all I know.

Dear MT,
You scare me. What happened to your sister?

Dear kid with the bamboo pole,
How many times do you think I can write about the missing crummy parent anyway?

Dear Civil War kid,
No one is interested. Really. 

Signed the author too busy already juggling planes, plants and gypsies.

Whew!

Sunday, March 16, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , |7 Comments

Character letters

(Yes, I do plan to return to normal blogging sometime soon but right now this is all I can manage.)

Dear Flyboy,
Okay, yes, I suppose I knew exactly what you were going to do when I gave you the chance and I can’t blame you for that. I just know you’ll pay for it later and I worry about you. You are much too serious for your own good. You’re a kid, not an old man.

Tell me something new. Tell me about your first time – your very, very first time. And no, not THAT first time. Contrary to what you might think I’m really not that interested in your sex life or lack of one. (Personally I could write the entire book and never once think about your hormones and what they may or may not be doing but I don’t think that would be realistic considering the fact that you’re a teenage boy.) What I mean is, tell me about your first memory of flying and how it made you feel.

Signed,
Author trying to remember her first time

Dear Plant Kid,
Sorry about the sarcasm but really, I had no idea you were going to do that so I was surprised at the way everything unfolded. As the author though, I have to admit to being secretly delighted that there is already so much conflict going on. It bodes well for the future of the book.

There’s going to be a HUGE fight over it, you know that, don’t you? And I don’t mean between you and MM. The town, especially that one neighbor, is going to fight it. You could make it an environmental issue but really, I think that’s been done enough times already and never in a spectacular fashion so it would be hard for me to interest
an editor in it from that angle. You need to find your own way.

Fate versus dreamers, an interesting concept. I always thought you were on the side of fate, at least until the recent events. Interesting how quickly you’ve switched to the other side. Does he really have that much influence over you? Why is that? What do you get from him that you don’t get from anywhere else?

You asked who you are living with and I have to tell you that right now, I’m not sure either. I think it may be your aunt. Maybe. I know you just moved there and the town is new to you.

What’s it like for you at school? Do you have any friends? Are you a good student? Tell me something that will surprise me about you.

Signed,
Author who still doesn’t know what you really want

Dear Friend of Max,
Attacking me is NOT going to get your story written. Do you think you are the only one in the world to go through hard times? If so, you are sadly mistaken. The world is not always a pretty place. Life is not easy and it is never, ever fair. Ever.

I’m sorry about the monster. We all have them in some degree or another. Some people have monsters they can see and other people have monsters who live inside them. Everyone gets broken. It’s how you pick yourself up and put yourself back together again that decides how you will live your life.

You dad sounds like a great guy. I’m sorry he’s not in the book but you can go visit him whenever you want.

You were afraid of Max? Really? That made me laugh too! I just remembered about Max and pickles. There’s another story there, I’m sure. Can you tell more more about it?

Signed,
Author reading up on the legalities around your situation

Friday, March 14, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |6 Comments

Characters talk back

Dear Author Who Thinks She’s So Smart,

What did you think I was going to do when you put the opportunity right in front of me like that? 

Signed,
Flyboy, grounded for the moment

 

Dear Author Whose Doing a Pretty Good Job Bringing Me to Life,
 
Mr. Mac explained to me how sometimes people do things without thinking and then later, it turns out that they meant to do it all along. But it was their subconcious that got things started. I don’t know if that’s true for me because I didn’t even know Mr. Mac until I, well, until that first day when I just went ahead and did what someone paid me to do and then you know how THAT all turned out. I guess I could have said no but it didn’t look like it would be that big of a deal. And I needed the money.

Maybe I knew something was going to happen. Sort of like the way dogs can tell an earthquake is coming only they can’t tell the humans around them. So the dog starts acting all scared or goofy or something and the human hasn’t got a clue as to what’s going on. Maybe it was like that.

Or maybe it was just fate but Mr. Mac says believing in fate is for lazy folks who are afraid to dream.

Signed,
Plant Kid

PS – You think maybe you could tell me where I’m living because I see someone in the house with me but I sure as heck don’t know who she is.

PPS – Sarcasm isn’t going to change anything

 
 

Dear Author Who is just  a big old Chicken you-know-what,

Yes, some people are going to be mad at you when you write my story but does that mean it shouldn’t be written? Are you one of those people who just walks by the homeless people and wish they didn’t exisit? Do you sit in your fancy house and push the remote control button every time you see a picture of a starving kid come up on the screen.

I’ve got news for you – pretending like something doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. Believe me, I’ve tried. Every night before I can fall asleep I pretend there isn’t a monster in the house but every morning I wake up, he’s still there.

My dad is the one who brought me and Max together for the first time. My real dad. Not that loser of a guy who convinced my mom to marry him just so he could get her money. I was scared of Max at first. He was pretty scary looking. Still is, only not to me anymore. That first time I met Max all I could think was how much I didn’t want to tick him off because I knew it would be real messy in a hurry and that most of the mess would be me.

My dad thought me and Max needed each other. That made me laugh so hard that it made my dad laugh hard, hard enough to bring a crowd of people around us (we were sitting on the front porch) and pretty soon the whole neighborhood was laughing right along with us and me and Max, we were on our way to being best friends.

Signed,
Kid who misses his dad

Wednesday, March 12, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |8 Comments

Letters to characters

Dear Flyboy,
Did you really think he wouldn’t find out? Did you really think you wouldn’t be punished? Really?

Author who thought you were smarter than that   

Dear Plant Kid,
Nice entrance. How long do you think it will be before he starts speaking to you again?

And yes, I realize that you now have two, possibly three names, and that I am calling you by all of them at various times. I still like the first name best but there are several books already out with that character’s name as the title so it simply won’t work. If you don’t like my choices, why don’t you come up with something of your own?

Author with rocks in her head

 

Dear Friend of Max,
Tell me about the very first day you met Max, please. There is so much I don’t understand.

Author who knows this story will make some people mad

Tuesday, March 11, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |5 Comments

Writing update – Plant Kid

This weekend I did something I’ve never done before – I wrote the last scene in a book long before the end of the book was in sight.

It wasn’t intentional. I didn’t sit down and say wow, let’s write the last scene in the book because, heck, I don’t really even know what this book is about – yet. But I am continuing on my bit by bit method of writing these three stories at once by just trying to write a single scene every night before bed. Of late they have all been in the plant book and that’s okay. The character is very real to me and, I almost hesitate to say this, but I may have found his voice which goes a long way to bringing a book to life.

Friday night I knew I wanted to write a scene about the MC and a particular plant. So I did. And then I reread it, as is my habit before turning out the light and I realized that it was the very last scene in the book and suddenly I knew where I was headed. I have no idea how I’m going to get there but that’s okay, I have a goal for this kid.

Saturday night’s scene was prompting by watching my husband spend most of his Saturday pulling weeds in the yard. So I set the MC to pulling weeds. And in the process of writing the scene I had that wonderful experience where, before you can even get the words down, you can see the whole scene unfold in front of you. I gave him a simple task to do which set something else in motion which created a conflict that I needed but didn’t know how to orchastrate.

Sunday night’s scene was an apology that was not accepted.

I have no title for this book. I don’t even know if I have the main character’s name for sure and I’m not sure I know what his problem is or what he wants.

But I have scenes. And for now, that’s enough.

Monday, March 10, 2008|Categories: Writing Process|Tags: , , , , |23 Comments

Characters talking back (and one of them is very wise)

Dear Author,
Isn’t it enough that you’re poking around in the thoughts in my head, now you want to know about the thoughts I have in my bedroom (which I might remind you is supposed to be a private place, as is the shower). No. Absolutely not. Girls are trouble. They mess with your head and play games and I don’t have time for that.  And you do remember my mother don’t you? And what she did? With my luck any girl I meet will be just like my mother, ripping anything I love right out of my life and I don’t think I could handle that. Back off, will ya?
Flyboy

Dear Author Who is Trying to Blame the Lack of Plot on Me,
I don’t know much about a lot of things, especially writing books, but here’s something Mr. Mac told me before he died. You’ve got to believe in things you can’t see before you see things you won’t believe. He was talking about gardening but I’m thinking it might work for telling stories too.

Here’s the thing about gardening. You plant the seeds, water them sometimes, ignore them othertimes (especially if they’re native plants) and then you wait. And while you’re waiting, there’s a whole lot of something going on under the ground, deep down in the dirt. Seeds are opening and roots are unfurling, stretching down deep toward the water table. Earthworms are churning the soil and tons little bugs and mites and tiny things we can’t see are doing just what nature intends them to do. But up top all you can see is dirt. Piles and piles of dirt and not a stick of nothing growing in it nowhere. It’d be easy to give up then and just roll out some plastic grass and call it a day. But if you’re the believing type, you just wait. And then you wait some more. And then one day you walk out and you see a lot of those seeds you plant have pushed their way up through the dirt just looking for the sunshine and blue sky. Some of them still wearing bits of the seed hull on their hat like a lopsided hat. And just like that, you have a garden.

So I’m thinking maybe plot is like that – there could be a whole lot of something going on under the surface of my story, you just need to plant the seeds.

Plant kid

 

Dear Author Ignoring My Story,
I gave you the first line of the book last night. It led you right to the first scene, with me and Max and meeting the gypsy lady for the first time. I know you remember it because I heard you repeating it before you went to sleep last night and in the shower AND on the way to work.

I’ll visit Max as soon as you give ME a name and commit to my story.

Lost boy

Wednesday, March 5, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |15 Comments

Letters to Characters

Dear Flyboy,
Thought I should warn you that Spencer is a girl. Yes, I realize that complicates things and puts the two of you in direction competition but cripes, you’re almost 17 years-old, there must be hormones in there somewhere and this is the only way I could think of for me to find them. Can you at least pretend, for my sake?
Me
(PS – no, I don’t think your gay.)

Dear Plant Kid,
You’re older than I thought. Hmmm. Not sure what that is going to do to things. But worms? Now I have to learn about worms? I’ll do it but you have to do something for me in return. As in, you have to DO SOMETHING other than plant plants and pull weeds.
Me

Dear Lost Boy,
I’ve done all I can for the moment to get rid of the BIG BAD THING in your life yet that doesn’t make you feel as safe as it should. Why not? What do you know that I don’t know? And why won’t you visit Max?
Me

Tuesday, March 4, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , |10 Comments

And the characters talk back, again

Dear Person Who THINKS She is in Charge of MY Story,

First I thought it was an accident. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe I meant to do it (which is dumb because I didn’t even know that Mrs. B was going to be there. I didn’t know she was going to have her iPod plugged in and turned up so loud that she wouldn’t hear me coming. I mean, come on, old people don’t use iPods, do they?) so I guess it was really just an accident.

And it’s not like I killed her. If you kill someone it can’t be an accident, can it? Killing someone is permanent. You can’t undo it. You can’t fix like you can fix a broken mailbox and a fence. She didn’t even want to go inside. She just asked me to go into her house and bring  out a couple of cans of soda.

But you can’t trust anyone, don’t you know that by now? And you really shouldn’t trust me because I’ll just let you down.

Signed,
Flyboy

Dear Author Whom I Know in Her Heart Really Wants to be Working on my story,

I can’t tell you about my “thing” but maybe you should check the books on Mr. Mac’s nightstand. Under the plant books, there’s another one, a medical one. He’s got the pages bookmarked. 

Signed,
Kid with perpetually dirty fingernails

To anyone who reads this,

They took Max away today. They won’t tell me where. I don’t know if I will ever see him again.

I will never, ever forgive YOU for letting this happen. NEVER.

Signed,
The only person who REALLY loved Max

Thursday, January 31, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |3 Comments

More Character letters

Dear Flyboy,
You are too nice. TOO NICE. Do you hear me? No kid is that nice, that good. Not all the time. Not unless they’re hiding something. Are you? I didn’t think you were the one with the secret in this book but I can’t figure out any other reason for your perpetual Eddie Haskell attitude. If I, the author, am breathing life into you with pieces of me there’s no way you can be that nice. No frigging way. Because I am sometimes a nice person but NOT ALL THE TIME.

What are you hiding? What are you afraid people are going to find out? What do you think they are going to do to you, think of you, when they know the truth. 

This doesn’t have anything to do with your dad at all, does it? This has to do with you trying to fake what kind of person you are so you can trick people into believing what you want them to be. But why?

Signed,
Author who is not feeling very nice at all

Dear Plant Kid,

Look, I’m really sorry about Mr. Mac dying. I had no idea that was going to happen until he walked in front of the garbage truck. You keep talking about that “thing” you have and I’m guessing its somewhere on your upper body since I’ve never seen you without your hoodie but I don’t know what it is. And if I don’t know what it is, how can I connect it to the plot line and deepen the theme? And if I don’t connect the plot dots, no one is ever going to get the chance to read your story anyway. And yes, you can have the poppies. All the poppies you want. But later. I’m not supposed to be working on you right now anyway. If you’re really bored, you can help Flyboy pack.

Author with too much time to think and not enough time to write

Dear Character Who is Taking Care of Max,

The gypsy’s back. But she moved. Check out the vacation rentals over by the roller coaster. Whatever you do, don’t antagonize “him.” Whatever he says to you, just walk away.

Author who has your back

Wednesday, January 30, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |16 Comments

And the characters talk back

Dear Author,

 Yes I broke my promise to my dad. So what! I had a chance to do something important to me for a change and I took it. I am sick and tired of trying to be like Mr. Perfect. Gag! Besides, now that we’re moving, he’ll never know about it, will he?

Unless you tell him. And you better not. You know what happens when people snitch. You remember what happened, don’t you? Uh huh. I thought you might.

How about helping me pack up my room now?

Your MC

Dear Word Person,

Do you have ANY idea how important Mr. Mac was to me? You don’t, do you? If you did you wouldn’t be trying to make me leave the yard. Mr. Mac was the only one who understood me. He didn’t care about my, well, you know. It didn’t matter to him. For someone who reads a lot of books you’re not very bright, are you?

Disgruntled and dirty character without a name to call his own

Dear person who is ignoring me,

I refuse to call you the author of my story because you’re not working on it. It’s cold out here. I’m hungry. Max doesn’t look too good. There’s a lot of blood from where, well, you know. I’m pretty sure his leg is broke too. But you don’t care about any of that, do you? The gypsy lady would help, I know she would, but I think they scared her off for good this time.

What am I supposed to do now?

Max’s protector

Thursday, January 24, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |17 Comments

the closest thing to writing for me lately

I am almost loathe to do this because 

 does it so well but since I am giving her full credit for the idea, I hope she won’t mind me copying her idea. It’s the most writing I am able to manage of late. 

Dear Main Character in my current WIP,
Why in the world would you make that kind of a deal with your dad? It doesn’t make any sense to me that you would agree to stop doing what you love doing more than anything else unless you were forced into it. What happened? Why won’t you tell me? Keeping it a secret from me isn’t going to help you one bit. If you don’t tell me soon I’ll be forced to go back to the plant book and let you stew on your own. Either that or I’ll let the girl fly instead. What do you think about that? Humph!

With the deepest frustration,
me

Dear Main Character in the plant book that I am not supposed to be working on at all,
I can’t set an entire novel in your backyard, no matter who’s buried there. Do something, will you please?

Plotlessly yours,
me

Dear Max,
They’ll find you. They always do. I’m sorry.

Worriedly,
me

 

Monday, January 21, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , , |11 Comments

Letter to and from Max's friend

This year I decided to try something new – writing letters to characters in my current WIP and then allowing the characters to answer me, all via my blog. This has led to some interesting insights into the book and created opportunities in telling the story that may not have otherwise come to me. Sometimes it has been tricky writing and answering the letters without giving away the book but I think that part of the challenge has been fun.

While you can read any of the letters by clicking on my tag “character letters” I thought it would be fun to collect each character’s letters in one permapost in chronological order. Each time I post a new letter in my daily blog I will append it at the bottom of this page.

Here are the letters to and from the kid who is Max’s best friend.

 January 21st, 2008 | 6:26 PM

Dear Max,
They’ll find you. They always do. I’m sorry.

Worriedly,
me

January 24th, 2008 | 6:55 AM

Dear person who is ignoring me,
I refuse to call you the author of my story because you’re not working on it. It’s cold out here. I’m hungry. 

Max doesn’t look too good. There’s a lot of blood from where, well, you know. I’m pretty sure his leg is broke too.But you don’t care about any of that, do you? The gypsy lady would help, I know she would, but I think they scared her off for good this time.

What am I supposed to do now?

Signed,
Max’s protector

 

January 30th, 2008 | 7:21 AM

Dear Character Who is Taking Care of Max,

The gypsy’s back. But she moved. Check out the vacation rentals over by the roller coaster. Whatever you do, don’t antagonize “him.” Whatever he says to you, just walk away.

Signed,
Author who has your back

 

January 31st, 2008 | 7:43 AM

To anyone who reads this,
They took Max away today. They won’t tell me where. I don’t know if I will ever see him again. 

I will never, ever forgive YOU for letting this happen. NEVER.

Signed,
The only person who REALLY loved Max

March 4th, 2008 | 7:06 AM

Dear Lost Boy,
I’ve done all I can for the moment to get rid of the BIG BAD THING in your life yet that doesn’t make you feel as safe as it should. Why not? What do you know that I don’t know? And why won’t you visit Max?

Signed,
Me

 

March 5th, 2008 | 7:37 AM

Dear Author Ignoring My Story,
I gave you the first line of the book last night. It led you right to the first scene, with me and Max and meeting the gypsy lady for the first time. I know you remember it because I heard you repeating it before you went to sleep last night and in the shower AND on the way to work.

I’ll visit Max as soon as you give ME a name and commit to my story.

Signed,
Lost boy

 

March 11th, 2008 | 6:39 AM

Dear Friend of Max,
Tell me about the very first day you met Max, please. There is so much I don’t understand.

Signed,
Author who knows this story will make some people mad

 

March 12th, 2008 | 6:51 AM

Dear Author Who is just  a big old Chicken you-know-what,
Yes, some people are going to be mad at you when you write my story but does that mean it shouldn’t be written? Are you one of those people who just walks by the homeless people and wish they didn’t exisit? Do you sit in your fancy house and push the remote control button every time you see a picture of a starving kid come up on the screen.

I’ve got news for you – pretending like something doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. Believe me, I’ve tried. Every night before I can fall asleep I pretend there isn’t a monster in the house but every morning I wake up, he’s still there.

My dad is the one who brought me and Max together for the first time. My real dad. Not that loser of a guy who convinced my mom to marry him just so he could get her money. I was scared of Max at first. He was pretty scary looking. Still is, only not to me anymore. That first time I met Max all I could think was how much I didn’t want to tick him off because I knew it would be real messy in a hurry and that most of the mess would be me.

My dad thought me and Max needed each other. That made me laugh so hard that it made my dad laugh hard, hard enough to bring a crowd of people around us (we were sitting on the front porch) and pretty soon the whole neighborhood was laughing right along with us and me and Max, we were on our way to being best friends.

Signed,
Kid who misses his dad

March 14th, 2008 | 6:55 AM

Dear Friend of Max,
Attacking me is NOT going to get your story written. Do you think you are the only one in the world to go through hard times? If so, you are sadly mistaken. The world is not always a pretty place. Life is not easy and it is never, ever fair. Ever.

I’m sorry about the monster. We all have them in some degree or another. Some people have monsters they can see and other people have monsters who live inside them. Everyone gets broken. It’s how you pick yourself up and put yourself back together again that decides how you will live your life.

You dad sounds like a great guy. I’m sorry he’s not in the book but you can go visit him whenever you want.

You were afraid of Max? Really? That made me laugh too! I just remembered about Max and pickles. There’s another story there, I’m sure. Can you tell more more about it?

Signed,
Author reading up on the legalities around your situation

 

March 18th, 2008 | 7:19 AM

Dear Author,
Today was a good day and then a bad day and then a really, really bad day.

I went to see my dad and told him all about Max and everything that’s been going on. Then I went to see the gypsy lady but I got lost and ended up on the east side after dark. This big kid chased me for the longest time, I guess he thought I had some money (ha!) but I finally lost him. When I got home my mom had locked the front door and wouldn’t let me so I spent the night on the front porch. No dinner, of course.

Signed,
Kid who still has no name

PS – it was raining.

 

March 19th, 2008 | 8:19 AM

Dear Lost Boy,

I’m sorry. I’m sure it’s all my fault so go ahead and rant at me if you want.  All things considered, when you think about what went on that night on the OTHER side of the door, maybe being wet and cold and hungry was better after all?

What do you think?

Signed,
Author who hates hurting characters she loves
 

 

March 24th, 2008 | 7:24 AM

Dear Person Who Keeps Ignoring Me Even Though Everyone Says You Should Be Writing About Me First,

I am not talking to you anymore.

Not at all.

No.

I am not even going to tell you about what happened when I went to see Max.

Signed,
Lost boy

 

March 27th, 2008 | 6:23 AM

Dear Lost boy,
I understand. Really I do. I want to remind that I did share the beginning of YOUR story in my Teaser Tuesday. I haven’t done that for anyone else yet. I think you and Flyboy are neck and neck. I know more about his story than I do yours but I know more about yours than I do Plant kid’s story.

There’s another thing I’ve been thinking about with you. There’s this kid who used to talk to me. His name was Frankie. Frankie grabbed me by the throat when I was driving one day and wanted to tell me about some terrible things. He had a sister. A sister with a secret. I saw Frankie’s house and I saw where his mom worked and I saw a bunch of not-so-pretty things in Frankie’s life. The last time I saw Frankie he was running, fast, away from something or someone. He hasn’t spoken to me for over a year. Maybe longer.< /p>

Now I can’t help but wonder, are you Frankie?

Signed,
Author who needs to read through her old notebooks
 

 

March 31th, 2008 | 6:17 AM

Dear Author Putting 2 + 2 Together,
The answer is yes.

But please don’t ask me to talk about my sister yet. I’m not ready.

Signed, 
Frankie 

April 4th, 2008 | 5:23 AM
Dear Frankie,
At last, you have a NAME! I’m so happy. I’ve been wondering if it might be you but I’ve been a bit afraid of going back to your story. I mean, the stuff that happens to Max is bad enough but the stuff with your sister . . . <gulp> Even as backstory it’s not going to be pretty or fun. I’ve seen books written about the sort of thing that happened to your sister and I’ve seen books written about the sort of thing that happens to Max. How can I make it different?

Of course here is where I start to second guess myself. Maybe it is all going to be too icky and depressing and maybe people don’t want to read about that kind of stuff. Or not anymore. I can psych myself out by reading articles about too many depressing stories for kids today or why can’t there be any happy families in children’s books. The more I read those sorts of things the less I think anyone wants to hear about your story. And I can’t help but wonder if dark, hard hitting books with issues at the core, are they the kind of books that people reread again and again? I’m thinking maybe not.

I know you said you didn’t want to talk about it but you know we have to. Now is as good a time as any. Frankie, tell me about your sister.

Signed,
Author stocking up on tissues

 
April 10th, 2008 | 8:17 AM

Dear Nosy Author,
The trouble with little sisters is they’re so darn cute all the time. Or they think they are. Or everyone around you thinks they are.  Do you have any idea how many times someone pushed me out of the way so they could get to her and go gaga over her stupid baby noises? 

Lots of times it’s the same thing with dogs. But different. Or maybe it’s me that’s different now. I won’t make the same mistake with Max that I made with my little sister.

Of course I probably won’t get the chance, either.

Signed,
Frankie

May 6th, 2008 | 11:48 AM 

Deat Frankie,
We are at an absolute stop. I mean it. A complete and utter stop until you fess up and tell me what happened to your sister. I mean what REALLY happened. Not what you keep telling everyone else.

Signed,
Author sitting in the dark

May 8th, 2008 | 6:51 AM 

Dear Author,
When I was a little kid, I mean really little, I used to think that going for a ride in the car was this great big adventure. Even if all my mom or dad was going to do was race down to the quick mart for diapers for my sister, I wanted to go. I was good at pretending we were heading for the moon instead.

I was pretty good at getting my way too. I had the cute face and the pouting face and the please don’t you know I’m the best kid in the entire world face down to a science. It was all in the timing. Ask too soon and the answer would still be no. Ask too early and my mom would tell me to quit being a goofball. But if I asked just right I had a pretty good chance of making one of them say yes.

Now I’ve just got one face. It’s just the here I am what do you want me to do now kind of face. Nothing special.

And I don’t ask anyone for anything anymore.

Signed,
Frankie

Tuesday, January 1, 2008|Categories: Writing Process|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Letters to and from Plant Kid

This year I decided to try something new – writing letters to characters in my current WIP and then allowing the characters to answer me, all via my blog. This has led to some interesting insights into the book and created opportunities in telling the story that may not have otherwise come to me. Sometimes it has been tricky writing and answering the letters without giving away the book but I think that part of the challenge has been fun.

While you can read any of the letters by clicking on my tag “character letters” I thought it would be fun to collect each character’s letters in one permapost in chronological order. Each time I post a new letter in my daily blog I will append it at the bottom of this page.

Here are the letters to and from Plant Kid.

 
January 21st, 2008 | 6:26 PM 

Dear Main Character in the plant book that I am not supposed to be working on at all,
I can’t set an entire novel in your backyard, no matter who’s buried there. Do something, will you please?

Plotlessly yours,
me

 

January 24th, 2008 | 6:55 AM 

Dear Word Person,
Do you have ANY idea how important Mr. Mac was to me? You don’t, do you? If you did you wouldn’t be trying to make me leave the yard. Mr. Mac was the only one who understood me. He didn’t care about my, well, you know. It didn’t matter to him. For someone who reads a lot of books you’re not very bright, are you?

Signed,
Disgruntled and dirty character without a name to call his own

 

January 30th, 2008 | 7:21 AM 

Dear Plant Kid,
Look, I’m really sorry about Mr. Mac dying. I had no idea that was going to happen until he walked in front of the garbage truck. You keep talking about that “thing” you have and I’m guessing its somewhere on your upper body since I’ve never seen you without your hoodie but I don’t know what it is. And if I don’t know what it is, how can I connect it to the plot line and deepen the theme? And if I don’t connect the plot dots, no one is ever going to get the chance to read your story anyway. And yes, you can have the poppies. All the poppies you want. But later. I’m not supposed to be working on you right now anyway. If you’re really bored, you can help Flyboy pack.

Signed,
Author with too much time to think and not enough time to write

 

January 31st, 2008 | 7:43 AM 

Dear Author Whom I Know in Her Heart Really Wants to be Working on my story,
I can’t tell you about my “thing” but maybe you should check the books on Mr. Mac’s nightstand. Under the plant books, there’s another one, a medical one. He’s got the pages bookmarked. 

Signed,
Kid with perpetually dirty fingernails

 

March 4th, 2008 | 7:06 AM 

Dear Plant Kid,
You’re older than I thought. Hmmm. Not sure what that is going to do to things. But worms? Now I have to learn about worms? I’ll do it but you have to do something for me in return. As in, you have to DO SOMETHING other than plant plants and pull weeds.

Signed,
Me

 

March 5th, 2008 | 7:37 AM 

Dear Author Who is Trying to Blame the Lack of Plot on Me,
I don’t know much about a lot of things, especially writing books, but here’s something Mr. Mac told me before he died. You’ve got to believe in things you can’t see before you see things you won’t believe. He was talking about gardening but I’m thinking it might work for telling stories too.

Here’s the thing about gardening. You plant the seeds, water them sometimes, ignore them othertimes (especially if they’re native plants) and then you wait. And while you’re waiting, there’s a whole lot of something going on under the ground, deep down in the dirt. Seeds are opening and roots are unfurling, stretching down deep toward the water table. Earthworms are churning the soil and tons little bugs and mites and tiny things we can’t see are doing just what nature intends them to do. But up top all you can see is dirt. Piles and piles of dirt and not a stick of nothing growing in it nowhere. It’d be easy to give up then and just roll out some plastic grass and call it a day. But if you’re the believing type, you just wait. And then you wait some more. And then one day you walk out and you see a lot of those seeds you plant have pushed their way up through the dirt just looking for the sunshine and blue sky. Some of them still wearing bits of the seed hull on their hat like a lopsided hat. And just like that, you have a garden.

So I’m thinking maybe plot is like that – there could be a whole lot of something going on under the surface of my story, you just need to plant the seeds.

Signed,
Plant kid

March 11th, 2008 | 6:39 AM

Dear Plant Kid,
Nice entrance. How long do you think it will be before he starts speaking to you again?

And yes, I realize that you now have two, possibly three names, and that I am calling you by all of them at various times. I still like the first name best but there are several books already out with that character’s name as the title so it simply won’t work. If you don’t like my choices, why don’t you come up with something of your own?

Signed,
Author with rocks in her head

 

March 12th, 2008 | 6:51 AM 

Dear Author,
Mr. Mac explained to me how sometimes people do things without thinking and then later, it turns out that they meant to do it all along. But it was their subconcious that got things started. I don’t know if that’s true for me because I didn’t even know Mr. Mac until I, well, until that first day when I just went ahead and did what someone paid me to do and then you know how THAT all turned out. I guess I could have said no but it didn’t look like it would be that big of a deal. And I needed the money.

Maybe I knew something was going to happen. Sort of like the way dogs can tell an earthquake is coming only they can’t tell the humans around them. So the dog starts acting all scared or goofy or something and the human hasn’t got a clue as to what’s going on. Maybe it was like that.

Or maybe it was just fate but Mr. Mac says believing in fate is for lazy folks who are afraid to dream.

Signed,
Plant Kid

PS – You think maybe you could tell me where I’m living because I see someone in the house with me but I sure as heck don’t know who she is.

PPS – Sarcasm isn’t going to change anything

March 14th, 2008 | 6:55 AM 

Dear Plant Kid,
Sorry about the sarcasm but really, I had no idea you were going to do that so I was surprised at the way everything unfolded. As the author though, I have to admit to being secretly delighted that there is already so much conflict going on. It bodes well for the future of the book.

There’s going to be a HUGE fight over it, you know that, don’t you? And I don’t mean between you and MM. The town, especially that one neighbor, is going to fight it. You could make it an environmental issue but really, I think that’s been done enough times already and never in a spectacular fashion so it would be hard for me to interest
an editor in it from that angle. You need to find your own way.

Fate versus dreamers, an interesting concept. I always thought you were on the side of fate, at least until the recent events. Interesting how quickly you’ve switched to the other side. Does he really have that much influence over you? Why is that? What do you get from him that you don’t get from anywhere else?

You asked who you are living with and I have to tell you that right now, I’m not sure either. I think it may be your aunt. Maybe. I know you just moved there and the town is new to you.

What’s it like for you at school? Do you have any friends? Are you a good student? Tell me something that will surprise me about you.

Signed,

Author who still doesn’t know what you really want 

March 18th, 2008 | 7:19 AM

Dear Author Who Let Someone Intimidate Her Away From My Story,
You tell me to find my own way and when I do, you get mad. You shouldn’t talk about me. Not yet. You’re not ready. That much is obvious. Yes, plants are boring to some people. There’s so much that takes place underground and now you’ve let someone convince you that you don’t have the skills to bring my story to the surface.

Maybe I was wrong to trust you with it.

But here’s the thing, Mr. Mac says that sometimes we have to give people second and third chances. Sometimes even more chances than that because if you do that enough, well people will surprise you. But you have to believe they’re going to surprise you. If you don’t believe then it doesn’t matter if you tell my story or not.

Signed,
Plant kid
 

 
March 19th, 2008 | 8:19 AM 

Dear Plant kid,
You’re right and I’m wrong. There, does that make you feel better? I hate it when I give my power away and that’s exactly what I did. I am a social writer and I love LOVE LOVE talking about my books before they are actually books. I love to brainstorm and bounce things off of trusted friends. But the one thing I forget is that ideas are fragile and I need feedback that comes from a loving place. 

I think part of the problem is that I don’t have anyone to talk to about your book or any of the other books I am working on. I’ve lost my brainstorming partners so except for talking to you here, there’s really no one else who wants to listen to me try on plots for size or help me figure our the motivation behind a certain character’s actions.

I know writing is a lonely business but I need to talk to some people about you sometimes, someone other than you.
You should know that I have been thinking about you lately and where you live. I think it’s your sister, a sister you hadn’t seen in a long time for some reason. And the house looks a lot like the one I grew up in. How do you feel about an attic bedroom?

Signed,
Author grateful for second chances

March 24th, 2008 | 7:24 AM

Dear Insecure Author,
My sister? You know I think I remember my mom talking about a sister. They had a fight about something a long time ago, right after I was born and she went away and I stayed behind. I bet she wasn’t so thrilled to see me show up on her doorstep after mom died, was she?

I do like the attic bedroom. I like being able to open the window and reach right out and pluck an orange off the tree. I like the way the mourning doves gather on the roof of the garage and peck around at the scraps of bread I throw out for them. I’m not so crazy about the way the stairs go straight up and the railing is a little wobbly. I’m afraid I’m going to fall and land at the bottom of the stairs on that metal grate for the furnace.

I’m mostly okay just hanging out with Mr. Mac and learning from him but I’m thinking me and my sister don’t have a lot to say (except for when she’s yelling at me.) I could use a friend my own age. Think you could work on that for me? There’s this one kid at school, Benny, who seems okay. We worked together on the science project and he didn’t think my worms were stupid at all. There’s Alison too, but she’s a girl and I don’t want her to think I like her special like. Besides, her dad is the one with all those fancy roses so maybe I better not have much to do with her.

Signed,
Plant kid

 
March 27th, 2008 | 6:23 AM

Dear Plant Kid,

I love writing about you and I love sharing plant knowledge but I really really need to know what you want. I have no title for your story, no names for most of the people in your story, no idea what your story is about and absolutely no idea what the point of the whole story is.

What do you want more than anything else in the world? Why can’t you have it? What’s getting in your way? What would happen if you got your deepest wish?

All the roses and oranges and friends and favors you do for Mr. Mac don’t amount to a hill of beans if you can’t make me want something for you.

Signed,
Author moving you to the bottom of the list, for now

 

 March 31th, 2008 | 6:17 AM

Dear Author With Too Many Ideas,

No problem, I understand. I’m composting right now. 

Signed, 
Plant kid 

 

April 4th, 2008 | 5:23 AM
Dear Plant Kid,
Your voice changed. You’re no longer the thoughtful, introspective kid I’ve been writing about and I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I’m trying not to think about it but I can’t help it. I noticed it a little in the Teaser Tuesday post and now I am wondering if there’s a smart aleck trying to get out. Oh gosh I hope not. I can’t do smart aleck. Not for a whole book. And I don’t see a smart aleck as being the nature nurturing soul that I thought you were.

Maybe it will be different once you’ve finished composting.

If I work on your book I am saying that I trust myself enough to write a book that has no plot, no problem, no purpose with the hope that those needed pieces will appear by the time I reach the end. I don’t know if I trust you that much. I already know you don’t care. I already know that you don’t need me as much as I need you. And maybe that’s part of the problem. You don’t need me at all. Flyboy needs me. Frankie and Max need me. But, you’re so darn self-sufficient that you don’t need me or Mr. Mac or your sister or anyone. I don’t know how old you are but you’ve already got more control of your life than I can ever hope to find.

There are lots of things you don’t know but you don’t even care that you don’t know them.

Signed,
Author who needs to be needed

 

April 10th, 2008 | 8:17 AM 

Dear Needy Author, 

I need lots of things. I need to know why my mom never talked about my siser but why she sent me here to live just before she died but I probably never will on account of the fact that my mom is dead now. I need to know all the things Mr. Mac knows about native plants but I probably never will on account of that thing that happened that started the whole story in the first place. I need to fit somewhere, anywhere. I’m tried of being told to “bloom wherever I’m planted” because planting something means setting down roots and roots tie you to something, someone and near as I can figure, I’m not tied to anything.

No roots makes it kind of hard to stand up for anything at all.

Signed,
Plant kid

May 6th, 2008 | 11:48 AM 

Dear Plant kid,
That new project at school, the family tree. Sorry. I’d like to tell you that it will all work out just fine but honestly, I haven’t a clue.

Signed,
Author with questions of her own

May 8th, 2008 | 6:51 AM 

Dear Author,
Mr. Mac gave me one of his mini lectures the other day. This one was on plants that go along for hundreds of years thinking they’re called one thing and then wham, they wake up in the morning and they’re called something else. Did you know they could do genetic testing on plants, like a DNA test they do on people to find out if they’re related? Anyway, Mr. Mac says while it might be nice to know which plant is related to another one it really doesn’t make any difference to the plant. It’s either gonna grow or not grow and calling it something different isn’t going to change a thing.

Signed,
Plant kid

Tuesday, January 1, 2008|Categories: Letters to Characters|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Letters to Flyboy

This year I decided to try something new – writing letters to characters in my current WIP and then allowing the characters to answer me, all via my blog. This has led to some interesting insights into the book and created opportunities in telling the story that may not have otherwise come to me. Sometimes it has been tricky writing and answering the letters without giving away the book but I think that part of the challenge has been fun.

While you can read any of the letters by clicking on my tag "character letters" I thought it would be fun to collect each character’s letters in one permapost in chronological order. Each time I post a new letter in my daily blog I will append it at the bottom of this page.

Here are the letters to and from Flyboy.

January 21st, 2008 | 6:26 PM 
Dear Main Character in my current WIP,

Why in the world would you make that kind of a deal with your dad? It doesn’t make any sense to me that you would agree to stop doing what you love doing more than anything else unless you were forced into it. What happened? Why won’t you tell me? Keeping it a secret from me isn’t going to help you one bit. If you don’t tell me soon I’ll be forced to go back to the plant book and let you stew on your own. Either that or I’ll let the girl fly instead. What do you think about that? Humph!

With the deepest frustration,
me

 

January 24th, 2008 | 6:55 AM

Dear Author,
Yes I broke my promise to my dad. So what! I had a chance to do something important to me for a change and I took it. I am sick and tired of trying to be like Mr. Perfect. Gag! Besides, now that we’re moving, he’ll never know about it, will he?

Unless you tell him. And you better not. You know what happens when people snitch. You remember what happened, don’t you? Uh huh. I thought you might.

How about helping me pack up my room now?

Signed,
Your MC

 

January 30th, 2008 | 7:21 AM 

Dear Flyboy,
You are too nice. TOO NICE. Do you hear me? No kid is that nice, that good. Not all the time. Not unless they’re hiding something. Are you? I didn’t think you were the one with the secret in this book but I can’t figure out any other reason for your perpetual Eddie Haskell attitude. If I, the author, am breathing life into you with pieces of me there’s no way you can be that nice. No frigging way. Because I am sometimes a nice person but NOT ALL THE TIME.

What are you hiding? What are you afraid people are going to find out? What do you think they are going to do to you, think of you, when they know the truth.

This doesn’t have anything to do with your dad at all, does it? This has to do with you trying to fake what kind of person you are so you can trick people into believing what you want them to be. But why?

Signed,
Author who is not feeling very nice at all

 

January 31st, 2008 | 7:43 AM

Dear Person Who THINKS She is in Charge of MY Story,
First I thought it was an accident. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe I meant to do it (which is dumb because I didn’t even know that Mrs. B was going to be there. I didn’t know she was going to have her iPod plugged in and turned up so loud that she wouldn’t hear me coming. I mean, come on, old people don’t use iPods, do they?) so I guess it was really just an accident.

And it’s not like I killed her. If you kill someone it can’t be an accident, can it? Killing someone is permanent. You can’t undo it. You can’t fix like you can fix a broken mailbox and a fence. She didn’t even want to go inside. She just asked me to go into her house and bring  out a couple of cans of soda.

But you can’t trust anyone, don’t you know that by now? And you really shouldn’t trust me because I’ll just let you down.

Signed,
Flyboy

 

March 4th, 2008 | 7:06 AM

Dear Flyboy,
Thought I should warn you that Spencer is a girl. Yes, I realize that complicates things and puts the two of  you in direction competition but cripes, you’re almost 17 years-old, there must be hormones in there somewhere and this is the only way I could think of for me to find them. Can you at least pretend, for my sake?

Signed,
Me
(PS – no, I don’t think your gay.)

 

March 5th, 2008 | 7:37 AM

Dear Author,
Isn’t it enough that you’re poking around in the thoughts in my head, now you want to know about the thoughts I have in my bedroom (which I might remind you is supposed to be a private place, as is the shower). No. Absolutely not. Girls are trouble. They mess with your head and play games and I don’t have time for that.  And you do remember my mother don’t you? And what she did? With my luck any girl I meet will be just like my mother, ripping anything I love right out of my life and I don’t think I could handle that. 

Back off, will ya?

Signed,
Flyboy

 

March 11th, 2008 | 6:39 AM

Dear Flyboy,

Did you really think he wouldn’t find out? Did you really think you wouldn’t be punished? Really?

Signed,
Author who thought you were smarter than that

 

 
March 12th, 2008 | 6:51 AM 

Dear Author Who Thinks She’s So Smart,
What did you think I was going to do when you put the opportunity right in front of me like that?

Signed,
Flyboy, grounded for the moment
 

 

March 14th, 2008 | 6:55 AM 

Dear Flyboy,
Okay, yes, I suppose I knew exactly what you were going to do when I gave you the chance and I can’t blame you for that. I just know you’ll pay for it later and I worry about you. You are much too serious for your own good. You’re a kid, not an old man.

Tell me something new. Tell me about your first time – your very, very first time. And no, not THAT first time. Contrary to what you might think I’m really not that interested in your sex life or lack of one. (Personally I could write the entire book and never once think about your hormones and what they may or may not be doing but I don’t think that would be realistic considering the fact that you’re a teenage boy.) What I mean is, tell me about your first memory of flying and how it made you feel.

Signed,
Author trying to remember her first time
 

 
March 18th, 2008 | 7:19 AM

Dear Author,
If I’m made up of pieces of you (looking for that reader connection you love to talk about so much) is it any wonder that I’m a serious kid? How much time did you spend when you were my age laughing and having fun and how much time did you spend in your room worrying about things you couldn’t change? If you don’t like what you see in me maybe you better quit using me as a mirror.

I can’t remember the first time I went flying. Or the second or the third or many times after that. My dad, my NOW dad, told me that my real dad used to strap my carseat in the seat of the big P and take me just about everywhere with him, except for when he was filming. I think I remember flying somewhere for Christmas. I wanted to go to the North Pole and see Santa Claus and we went somewhere where the snow was piled up high on each side of the runway and there was barely enough room for the big P to touch down without jamming a wing into a snowdrift. We never found Santa but I remember drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows in some old shack while we waited for the weather to clear and listening to my dad play hangar trivia with his friends.

How does flying make me feel? How does writing make YOU feel? Flying makes me feel like I am alive and free and capable of doing almost anything, of being almost anything, even a good kid.

Signed,
Flyboy

 

March 19th, 2008 | 8:19 AM

Dear Flyboy,
Remember that grandfather you had that I said was the reason you were moving and then I killed him because
everyone convinced me there were too many people in the book? Remember him?

Well I don’t think he’s dead.

Signed, 
Author returning to her original idea 

March 24th, 2008 | 7:24 AM

Dear Author Who Can’t Make Up Her Mind,
I’m going to tell you some things you already know and if it sounds like it’s coming from you and not from me, remember how much of yourself you have poured into me.

I am you. I am the insecure, can’t make his mind, why doesn’t anyone love me you. I am the you who doesn’t understand you are afraid to let people know how you feel, why you worry so much about what they will see in you and why you put up a wall that keep people at a distance. I am the you who can’t sleep because of worrying all the time. I am the you who wants a family and doesn’t feel like they deserve it.

Keep that in mind when it comes to telling my story. Trust yourself.

I need you to tell the truth about me because I’m too afraid to do it for myself. I need you to explain to people how I really feel about what my mother did and what I really remember about my dad. I need you to find a way to support me so that people don’t freak out when they hear the whole story.

I need you.

Isn’t that enough?

Signed,
Flyboy

 

March 27th, 2008 | 6:23 AM

Dear Flyboy,
You made me cry.

I was okay until I got to the last couple of lines of your letter where you said:

I need you.
Isn’t that enough?

And suddenly I was sitting at my desk bawling like a little kid. Do you know how many people I’ve said that to in my life? Do you know how many of them never said "yes?" Maybe it’s all this therapy I’m doing lately or maybe I’m just finally peeling away enough of the layers of myself that I can see you there, waiting for me to find you. It’s going to be so hard to write your story because yes, you are me.

You are the me that never knew my father and was always afraid to ask anyone any questions about him. You are the me that is filled with hundreds of questions about why I do the things I do and wondering if anyone else ever felt the same way I feel right this moment. You are the me that questions who makes us what we are, heridity or environment or some combination of the two. You are the me that doesn’t laugh outloud and is always afraid of looking silly in front of other people. You are the me that is sure I am the only one in the entire history of the universe who ever did something wrong and can’t forgive themself for it.

To write your story means to lay myself wide open to feeling everything you feel.  It means actually allowing myself to FEEL. Do you know how many years I have spent not feeling things? Sigh. I suppose you do. Your story is going to rip me up in a lot of ways and what if I can’t put myself back together again? You will turn me inside out and then everyone will be able to see who I really am and then, well, and then they might all turn away.

If I put myself out there for you like that and then your story falls apart, I don’t know if I can handle it.

But I think the hardest thing about your story, the very hardest thing about writing your story, is that by the end of the book you are going to understand where you came from and what made you the person you are today. You are going to get answers to all those questions you jot down in that notebook you hide in your flight bag. You, Flyboy, are going to get to know all about your dad.

And me, I never will.

Signed,
Author with a hole in her heart

 

March 31th, 2008 | 6:17 AM

Dear Author Who Isn’t Really Empty,
I know how you feel. I know, people say that all the time but really, I know just how you feel right now. I remember when my CFI had me try a stall for the first time. It was a good flying day, clear sky, no wind. The 152 was humming along. Okay, humming is too nice a word. Flying in the 152 is like being locked in a metal shed with a lawnmower going full blast. But that’s okay. I liked the noise. I liked that I had to concentrate on the voice in the headset for any directions from my CFI in the seat next to me. I liked feeling the power of plane vibrate all around me. With my hands on the yoke and my feet on the rudders I could feel the airplane hum up from my fingertips and down to my toes. It made my whole body come alive. It made me FEEL alive.

Stall practice was the only time I’ve been flying that I felt like I might need a barf bag.

First we were drifting then all at once the stall horn blared and the right wing dropped. I thought for sure we were going to go into a spin and I was praying my CFI would be able to yank us out of it before we crashed.

Maybe you think my CFI was crazy to have me do something that sounds so dangerous but the way he explained it to me made sense. He said you do stalls in practice so you can avoid them in real life.

So maybe writing my story is like stall practice for you.

What do you think?

Signed,
Flyboy

April 4th, 2008 | 5:23 AM

Dear Flyboy,
When did you get so smart?

Yes, writing about you will help me but what I am supposed to do when the siren goes off and there’s no one in the seat next to me to bring me out of the spin before I crash?

No, don’t answer that.

Instead, tell me how it is that you can remember what all those lights and dials and meters mean on the dashboard of an airplane, you can calculate things like the weight of fuel and passengers and and baggage how it effects lift-off and landings, you can plot a long cross-country flight that will take you an entire day and 3 fuel stops,  but you can’t remember to feed the dog?

Signed,
Author who didn’t even know you had a dog
 

 

April 10th, 2008 | 8:17 AM
Dear Author Who Should Have Known Better,
Remembering things I care about is easy. It’s all that other useless crap that’s hard. Tell me how diagramming sentences or conjugating French verbs is ever going to help me fly a plane? When I’m flying, I don’t much care how clean my room is or whether or not I made the bed. It doesn’t matter. Nothing else matters. Just flying.

About the dog. There’s always a dog.  Haven’t you figured that out yet? Madison, Zero, Max, Guster, Fuzzbucket and Baron. There’s probably more. But there’s always a dog.

Signed, 
Flyboy

 

May 6th, 2008 | 11:48 AM

Dear Flyboy,
Find the leather jacket. That’s all I can tell you right now and you probably won’t like me very much when you do but trust me, you need to find the leather jacket.

Signed,
Author who knows the secret

  

 

May 8th, 2008 | 6:51 AM

Dear Author,
I don’t know anything about a leather jacket but I did find a box. A box I don’t think I was supposed to find. And I am pissed off big time about what I found inside.

I’m not really sure what to do about it. It’s times like this I really wish I had a mom or a sister or someone that I could talk to about this stuff. I’m really sick and tired of people telling me to be grateful for what I’ve got because crap, there are a lot of things I don’t have or know that are more important to me than what I do. But I’m a kid and I’m not supposed to think like that. I’m supposed to suck it up and be happy I’m not in some foster home or living on the street or off in some foreign country with bombs going off all around me.

Well screw all that. I’m 16 years old and I’m self-centered spoiled brat.

Deal with it.

Signed,
Flyboy

 

January 19th, 2009 | 4:48 PM

Dear Flyboy,
While I know you think you are doing a good of hiding what you are really feeling I think someone is going to figure you out pretty soon. Boy are you going to ticked when you find out who it is.

Dear Edna,
Arrested? Really? You ARE toug
h,

Dear Flyboy’s dad,
I don’t know if are ballsy or just plain dumb. For Flyboy’s sake, I hope it’s the second one.

Dear Girl,
Where ARE you? Or did you decide I didn’t really need you after all?

Signed,
Author relying on index cards in order to tell this story

 

Dear Author,
There’s that saying about hiding in plain sight and how it makes it harder for people to find you. Do you think that’s true?

Letting people know what I am really feeling gives them power. Giving away your power is never a good thing. Trust me on that.

Signed,
Flyboy

 

Dear Author,
I’m a woman in a man’s world, of course I’m tough. But I’m a mom too. Don’t forget about that.

Signed,
Edna
 

Dear Author,
Have you ever done something and wished you could undo it? Have you ever had to wake up every single day of your life and sit across the breakfast table from someone who reminds you, just by his appearance about how much you screwed up?

Any guts I had rotted out years ago. You know that. I know I was an idiot many times over. I know he is going to find out the truth. And I know that everything is going to hit the proverbial fan when he does.

Signed,
Flyboy’s dad

 

Dear Author,
If you would give me a name I might tell you where I am. Until then you’re out of luck.

Signed,
Girl
 

 

Tuesday, January 1, 2008|Categories: Writing Process|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

When characters refuse to die (with good reasons)

I was pretty sure I had killed off all the mom characters in the book but I think I might have been a bit premature. I read something interesting in my notes last night. I was reading about flaws and one of the things I had printed out (I’m not near it now to get the quote exactly) said that the fatal flaw should be in direct opposition to the theme. I found that fascinating because as I played out what I first thought the theme was in my book it just didn’t work with the fatal flaw I gave to my MC. The initial theme was too vague; not focused enough. So I kept doing questions on the theme to spiral deeper and deeper and finally realized what the heart of the book was all about. And I realized I need the birth mom in order to help me do it.

She’s still dead, but she’s back in the book because I think he needs to find some things from her or of hers that will fuel his negative expectations in himself. There is much work to be done on the idea still. I need to think of what he might find of hers that I can mirror in some fashion into his world but it should be an interesting journey.

The grandfather? He’s still dead.

Sunday, November 25, 2007|Categories: Writing Process|Tags: , , |8 Comments

From research to index cards to story – I hope

Writing progress. I have been working hard on the YA novel. I have gone through about 90% of the notes I have made over the years on VZ and transferred the keeper pieces of information to a variety of color-coded index cards. I’ve almost gone through 3 packs of cards. I need more of a couple of colors to finish off. I had already made the decision to toss all the old versions and start anew. But even after packing those old pages away I was left with a binder full of  notes about characters and airplanes and various plot possibilities. Not all of it is usable but reading through it has helped me sink deeper into the story. Reading more about planes has helped me remember the initial pull to tell the story from 20 years ago. I have one colored card just for questions that need to be answered and as I went through the notes I’d find questions leading to more questions which lead to more plot points. I just kept jotting them on cards without trying to analyze them. That will come later.

I find it all very interesting to see that way my young writer mind worked back then – better in some ways (at taking notes) not so good in others (lots of cliche) but still workable. Still a very writeable story. A story I still want to tell. This is good news because for a while I wasn’t so sure. Anytime I have to do a lot of research for a book I reach a point where I don’t think I can do it. I get scared with all the facts that have to be perfectly correct and want to run and hide behind a story that just has to be emotionally correct. I think that’s why I wasn’t able to write this story before now – I just wasn’t writer enough to stand up to the material. To do it justice.

Jane Kurtz once told me that, “It isn’t just about telling the story but about becoming enough of a storyteller so that people will listen even to the hard things.”

That the kind of writer I want to be – one that compels you to keep reading even though you know some of the story isn’t going to be pretty. Am I still chasing demons of my own? Yes I am.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007|Categories: Writing Life|Tags: , , , |15 Comments