Monday, July 14, 2014

Divine Providence, Apocalyptic Fantasy, and an Interview

Another crazy weekend survived. Plus a couple more exciting reviews! Woot!

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!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Grimms' fairy tale on acid - funny! Glad you were able to return to the story and write it even better, Carrie-Anne.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I have a few short stories in formats my computer can no long access. If I ever wanted to do something with them, I'd have to rewrite them from memory.

Rena said...

Heading over to the interview. Ragdoll looks fantastic, and I routinely start from scratch with a novel.

Robin said...

It sounds to me like not being able to access that file may have been God's way of forcing you to start from scratch. Had you read that mess, you might have discarded what turned out to be an amazing story. I do believe in blessings in disguise and it sounds like this was definitely that!

Angela Brown said...

There so much fun and yay happening on this page I can hardly contain myself.

I loved learning about the history behind the Ragdoll tale.

The Silver Fox said...

Enjoyed the interview! Thanks for the link!

Carrie-Anne said...

Thanks for featuring me on your blog today, Tara!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Carrie Anne reminds me that there is so much to a great book. You do need to have a character to root for or it doesn't matter how well written.

Kim Van Sickler said...

Oh, Carrie-Ann, I quake with fear at the thought of losing my entire manuscript. No wonder it took you 16 1/2 years to face the story again, but kudos to you for doing it. You have to figure if a story has that kind of staying power inside your imagination, it deserves to be told, right?

Anonymous said...

You have 2 of my favorite blogger buddies on here today :-) Nice of you to feature them! I saw a show at the Broadway Palm last Sunday & thought of you, friend!

The Armchair Squid said...

Congrats and best of luck to Carrie-Anne with your latest release!

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