Now, it's time to continue on with my BROKEN BRANCH FALLS Summer Blog Tour!
TODAY: I will be at Elsie Elmore's crib answering questions about my Writing Process. Elsie is another sweetheart author at Curiosity Quills. Here's a little about her.
She's about to publish her first novel, THE UNDEAD, a paranormal romantic story of a 16 year-old’s encounter with the grim reaper. It's due out September 3, 2014! She's also working on a fairy tale retelling called RYDER AND WOLFE, as well as SEREN’S HEART, a magical realism story of a witch burdened with the rescue of her society.
"I love to breathe life into the stories drifting around my head. It’s an obsession, a passion, and an escape." - Elsie
WEDNESDAY: I'll be talking about the current trend of Apocalyptic Fantasy at Rae Quigley's fun site. Rae is a young superstar who is all about the entertainment industry.
Rae blogs about all things pop culture - gossip, music, movies, television and books. Lots of books. She's also a lover of fashion, zombies, and the 90′s. And puppies. And kittens. Who doesn’t love puppies and kittens? Or any animals? Animals are amazing.
Rae is amazing! I hope you'll stop by!
And finally, finally, finally! I need to share Carrie-Anne's latest release, LITTLE RAGDOLL! I'm happy to have her here today to enlighten us about the history behind it.
There’s a concept in Judaism called hashgacha pratit, Divine Providence. I really feel it applies to many of my stories and characters, but one of the most striking examples is my contemporary historical Bildungsroman Little Ragdoll.
I got the inspiration for the story in May of ’93, at thirteen years old, when I first heard the famous story behind The Four Seasons’ song “Rag Doll.” I felt like I had to write an entire novel about the growing-up experience and eventual happy ending of someone who could’ve been that anonymous young girl. Best of all, she would have her happy ever after with a rich boy who loved her just the way she was, a boy who’d defy his parents’ classist attitudes to be with her.
I started work on it that July and worked on it for a year. But then, the first of the two files got some kind of bug and could no longer be opened normally. This devastated me so much I entirely stopped working on it, but I never forgot that story. Finally, sixteen and a half years later, I was compelled back to it. I felt like I’d never forgive myself if I went the rest of my life fruitlessly waiting for that file to be accessed again.
In the weeks leading up to starting over, I had a number of dreams about this long-lost story, in which characters and events came back to me. Most notably, the character of Sarah came back to me in one of these dreams. I thought, “Oh yeah, they did have a German-Jewish live-in nanny! How did I ever forget that!”
It was hard to admit defeat and have to go back from scratch and memory, but given my elephantine memory, and the special wiring of my brain, I remembered the names and approximate starting ages of all nine siblings, as well as the general outline/timeline and most of the events, both planned and already-written. I wished many times I had the original to refer back to, but I recreated the story as best I could. Once I got past the point where I’d gotten cut off all those years ago, it got a lot easier. This was truly one of those times when a book was writing me instead of the other way around. Everything flowed so perfectly, naturally, effortlessly.
A few months after finishing the second first draft (this one complete!), I got the shock of my life when the first of those two old files was miraculously resurrected. (Ironically, now the second file is unable to be opened, since my external disk drive can’t read that particular disk.) I was, and remain, in complete horror of how awful it was. This was a Grimms’ fairytale on acid, awash in extreme purple prose, heavy-handed moralizing, emotionally manipulative prose essentially telling the reader how to think, feel, and react, and all the subtlety of a D.W. Griffith film. Everything was so rigidly black and white. There was no way I could’ve salvaged a halfway decent story by simply writing around that hot mess.
Not only was it too over the top, dark, depressing, and disturbing, but there was no real character development. No real distinct personalities emerge, making it hard to really root for anyone. In the version I wrote as an adult, every character has his or her own personality. I spent more time showing the love between the sisters, their one decent brother, and their friends than writing descriptions of their skid-row existence. That love is what gets them through the hard times and ultimately gets all of them out of poverty.
Every writer should have the experience of starting over from scratch and memory at least once. A lost manuscript might be more awful than you remember, and need so much work it’s not worth it to undertake extensive edits and revisions.
You can find LITTLE RAGDOLL here:
Carrie-Anne did a wonderful job under some tough circumstances. Thanks for your story, girl! I can't imagine starting over from scratch! But I can now see the benefits.
Happy Monday, everyone!