I recently had a weird Facebook interaction where another writer saw me say something to the effect of “Sometimes making stuff up is hard.” She disagreed. I thought it over and recanted, saying instead, “Okay, you’re right. I can make up crap all day but making up interesting stuff is hard.” Again, she disagreed. That time she said all I had to do was love life…something like that… and then I could make up interesting things with ease. To that I made a face. And we agreed to disagree after I assured her I adore my life and logged out a little perplexed. Mostly, I was all….why am I disagreeing about this on facebook? And. I could be wrong. Maybe she loves her life so very much that I can’t comprehend it and as a result she thinks of wonderfully intriguing things by the thousands. Right? I don’t know. *shrugs* So, it got me thinking.
From a girl who loves life the-Julie-amount, I can tell you with honesty: Not everything I think of is that interesting once I inspect it and draft the concept and dig out arcs and insert characters and knead and mold it in my hot little hands a while. Sometimes an interesting premise does not a novel make. At least not one I could do justice. This is a prime reason I have a file of IDEAS. They might one day grow legs and wobble, but for the time, they are filed as interesting, but not workable. I think that’s okay. It’s part of being a writer. Part of the process. After all, we’re best equipped for different storytelling at different times in our lives, our careers, states of mental health. And depending on where we are, the story will evolve differently.
There are some things in my stories that always pop up. Recurring things.Things that are part of me, like fireflies and evening skies and tall grass and lakes and cornfields. I write about willow trees and bonfires and skylines of century old barns with Mail Pouch logos, endless stars and bats swooping past the moon. I know those things. Beyond them, things I’ve read, seen or heard sneak into my stories, too. I’ve found it true that we put a piece of ourselves in every story, intentionally or not. Logically then, things I haven’t yet experienced might be exactly the inspiration I need to get that alien vampire bunny story off the ground later.
I see this truth in my fall releases. I recently finished my final read through of both a September and an October release. The September release, Deceived, was written almost four years ago and revised many times. The October release, Murder by the Seaside, was written last spring. Deceived feels like it was written by another person when compared to Murder by the Seaside. In many ways, that’s true. We writers grow and evolve quickly, constantly impacted by the craft, our reads and our life situation. I couldn’t write Deceived today, not the way it is now. I would approach it very differently because I’ve changed. The main character in Murder by the Seaside is a different story.. She’s on target with my writing style today, probably because I’m literally writing her today…book three in the series anyway. The contrast is intriguing. I enjoyed those final reads very much, and when I finish writing the third installment this summer, I’ll take a look in that IDEAS file again and see if one of those concepts inspire something new. But even before I open the file, I can tell you, inspiration doesn’t make it interesting. And making up interesting things is hard, at least for me. Taking an interesting idea all the way into a richly developed world, with fully human emotion filled characters and arching plotlines is not easy. Not for me. And for the record, I do love my crazy writer life in absurd and devastating ways. In the past few years, writing has grown roots in me deeper than the willows.
Today I reached a new milestone. After lots of hurry-up and wait in my baby writing career, I’m experiencing many new things as an author these days. This one has been the most thrilling so far. FedEx delivered a box of ARC (Advanced Reader Copies) yesterday. ARCs are imperfect paperback versions of the book to come. Inside, there are typos and random other things which were caught on the final read through, but not yet corrected in these copies. This is because ARCs go out early. They don’t wait around. LOL. ARCs are directed in advance of release to journals and reviewers and even to other authors high on the ladder than me, in the quest for a kind review, favorable mention or perhaps a blurb for the cover.
This is that moment when an author realizes there is no going back. What happens now is out of my hands. My baby will soon be set free in the world and while I will do all I can to nurture it and spread the word, how it’s received by readers is utterly beyond my control and that is terrifying. There’s no reeling it in. No do over. No pretending it didn’t happen. If this novel flounders, flops and dies, I can only mourn and move on. And moving on isn’t as easy as it sounds. I mean, what press will want me after a failed release? What reader would pick me up again? Oh. Boy. These are the thoughts I can’t entertain. Or I will be battier than I already am. Instead, I shall hope, have faith and believe in this story.
So, I’ve brought you with me this far, guys. From that life changing day a few years back when I first typed “how to write a book” in my search engine, to my first story in an anthology and every baby step since then. I’m putting it out there for you. Here it is. My journey from the slush to print. What do you think?
Available in September from Merit Press & F+W Media.
My summer calendar overfloweth, or as I recently told someone in an email- is engorged. Right? Sometimes I do not chose the best word. LOL. In addition to all the 999 things my three kids need carted to for the next three months, I have a lot going on myself. There are conferences, library visits, speaking gigs and more. All of those involve a raffle basket situation. Donating a basket is always optional, but super fun. I buy more raffle tickets every summer than I care to admit. Getting free books is my ultimate thrill. They call my name and I jump around like they called me up for The Price is Right! So, when MY NAME is going on the tag outside the basket, I want it to be something that earns a pile of tickets. But what do I put inside? I’m a tiny fish in the wide wide sea of better known authors. I don’t have 30 books to put inside. I have two print books. That’s a let down, right? And I’m too poor to give away Kindles and $100 gift cards. So, what’s a bookish girl to do? I want to woo you with my awesome basket!
So far, I’m thinking one book in each of two baskets, then theming the other contents around the books. For my sweet romance, Written on Her Heart, I’m thinking about adding a journal and maybe tea and a mug <– is that lame? I am so terrible at this!
For the YA, I am stunned stupid. I have NO IDEA what to put in there at all. Like. At. All.
This is probably a good time to thank all of you amazing people who contribute books to raffles every year. You are wonderful. I adore you. Please help. LOL
As many of you know, I’m on vacation. My family and I drove from Ohio to Orlando last weekend, a seventeen hour drive made of suck. Alas, we lived. We’re here and we had a blast together. No iPad, laptops or video games for the kids. They were forced to enjoy one another from the moment we unpacked until we get back in the car to go home – at which point I will gladly plug them in. Anyhow….Hubsy and I went to the Polynesian Resort for their luau dinner last night and it was awesome. I love being packed into a room full of happy people yammering away about their lives and vacation. Hubsy and I had a table to ourselves in the front row, which made eavesdropping very easy. No one paid any attention to us. All they saw was the back of our heads. But I was listening because I’m creepy like that.
The family behind us couldn’t get over the fire eaters and male dancers made of abs and glistening with something shiny. The men periodically murmured things like, “I need to get back to the gym” and “Sure, when you’re twenty-five it’s easy to look like that.” The women wondered how a fire eater gets insurance. “What must THAT cost?” they pondered. “Can you imagine his life insurance rates? What’s your profession? Fire eating. Well, that’s gonna cost ya.”
I sat sipping frozen punch from a giant coconut carved into a monkey face. My worst nightmare. You know I imagined no less than a dozen times that the monkey head came to life and bit my fingers off into bloody stumps. You should’ve seen the strange way I held the drink for that reason. My fear of monkeys only gets worse every day.
So, I’m not sure what all happened at the luau, but I have a slew of new story and character ideas. Crowds entertain me so very very much. Writers never know where inspiration will hit, I guess. And don’t get me started on what I learned about the Magic Bullet blender doo-dad my father in law made icees for the kids with. #deathmaker
Thanks to the wonderful Women on Writing, I have the honor of visiting with Jadie Jones today. She’s a delightful woman and YA author. I’m reading her novel Moonlit and will have a review up this week. So far, I love it. Of course I would. Have you met the author? Well, now you will because here she is!
My favorite Fantasy Authors – Jadie Jones
J.R. Tolkien: I grew up on the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Talk about the master of world building. His words paint such a vibrant, thorough picture. When I was young, his characters felt so real that I was sure they lived in the woods behind my house. In fact, his world felt tangible to me – a place I could get to and call home if only I knew the way.
C.S. Lewis: I was an oddball kid and then an awkward teenager with a serious set of braces, frizzy hair I had yet to figure out, and bad skin. I was certain I belonged somewhere else – that I’d become something shiny and whole. So the idea of stepping through a door – or wardrobe – and into a whole new world was very appealing to me. I didn’t realize how much this stuck with me until one of my editors said that Moonlit was like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe meets The Hunger Games. It’s actually a very fitting description.
C.J. Redwine : her debut novel, Defiance, leans more towards Dystopian, but there’s definitely a fantastic element at play. Defiance was one of my favorite books of 2012. I devoured it in two days’ time. Her writing style is what I like most, and she switches back and forth between two point-of-views in a way that is easy and organic.
Peter S. Beagle: The opening of “The Last Unicorn” might be my favorite first paragraph of all time: “The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam, but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.” Immediately, I am transported, and I believe. I think that’s what a fantasy author has to do for me: make me believe in the fantastical creature or world that they create.
Moonlit by Jadie Jones:
Eighteen-year-old Tanzy Hightower knows horses, has grown up with them on Wildwood Farm. She also knows not to venture beyond the trees that line the pasture. Things happen out there that can’t be explained. Or undone. Worse, no one but she and the horses can see what lurks in the shadows of the woods.
When a moonlit ride turns into a terrifying chase, Tanzy is left to question everything, from the freak accident that killed her father to the very blood in her veins. Broken and confused, she turns to Lucas, a scarred, beautiful stranger, and to Vanessa, a charming new friend who has everything Tanzy doesn’t.
But why do they seem to know more about her than she knows herself? Is she really Tanzy? Or someone new? Was she ever Tanzy? And how will she choose between the many realities she’s coming to know?
About the Author:
Jadie Jones has been dreaming about being an author since she wrote her first book in the seventh grade – in a black and white composition tablet, of course. But life happens…jobs, husband, baby. Jadie has that magical time known as naptime to thank for Moonlit. Because, when all was quiet in the house (with the exception of the washer humming in the background) Jadie could hear Tanzy, who she thought she had long ago relegated to past dreams, calling to her. And one day Jadie pulled out a pen and answered. The result was Moonlit.
Find Jadie online:
Jadie Jones’ blog: