Monday, March 16, 2015

Deleted Scenes

With every manuscript...err all three I've finished and the one I'm currently writing, I've kept a file that I put deleted scenes or in some cases deleted chapters--as in plural. I can't even go there...too soon.

Anyway, sometimes I know right away that something isn't working but I keep it in case it can go somewhere else in the story or could be used in a different book.

I didn't have many with Until Now. It was written and handed off so quickly that I didn't have much time to change my mind or rewrite.

Until Now was also written differently.  Each chapter that took place in the past had to be it's own short story and since the timeline of the book was eighteen years each chapter needed to have a purpose so I was choosy about what I wrote.

After finishing one particular chapter, I wavered on keeping it. I enjoyed writing it and loved the interaction between all the characters but it didn't really add anything to the story that couldn't be said in a few sentences somewhere else.

I sent it to Carrie who is my go to gal for all things and asked her opinion. She returned it with the same opinion. She liked it but it didn't need to be in the book.

I decided to keep it in. I sent my manuscript to my editor and a couple weeks later I received an email from her saying she liked this one chapter but it didn't really add anything and didn't move the story forward. In the end I took it out but saved it.

For those who have read Until Now and are interested there is now a tab at the top of my blog for deleted scenes. Inside you'll see what was originally Chapter Thirty-Two AKA She's baaaack.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The making of Until Now

During my fourth rewrite (yes I said fourth...don't even get me started) of Love You, Always, I hit a wall. The I'm-going-to-scratch-my-eyes-out-if-I-have-to-look-at-this-manuscript-one-more-day wall.  I hear it's common.

I needed a break. I needed to fall in love with new characters. I needed something to get me excited about writing again. I decided to look in my archives of story ideas and Katie's popped up.  Her story came to me while walking on the high school track at 11PM. 

 I fell in love with her and her story but when I started looking into who she was and where she came from, I fell in love with her mother Bridget and her Billy.

Originally, I thought I would write a quick short story about Bridget and Billy and release it right before I released Katie's story. That idea didn't last long.  I wrote what are now Chapters 27 and 29 of Until Now.  But it wasn't enough. I wanted to know more of their story so I thought I would turn it into a novella and go a little deeper. That didn't last long. The more I wrote the more I wanted to write. Unfortunately, at the time I had no idea how to write a book that spans 18 years. Soooo, I wrote chapter ideas on flash cards until I had a large pile. I put them in order of when they happened and made a detailed outline.

This is page 1 of 3 because this outline had to span into future books. The next will be Katie's story and the final will be Phillips that takes place in the future. There are also two novellas planned and those get outlined too.

Aaaaanyway, I write detailed calender outlines for each book and series to keep dates straight and to keep from having to do the math when I'm trying to figure out age of my characters. I'm somewhat anal about it.

Once I put them in order of dates, I had to decide how to write it and that's when I came up with breaking up one day into multiple parts. Because it's me, I needed to make a visual so I could see how it would work out. Each card is a chapter idea.

The one's on the left represent present day while the ones on the right represent past chapters.  I did shorten and change and took out some chapters but this is how it started. Once I had that done, I wrote like my fingers were on fire particularly since I scheduled time with my editor for the middle of September not thinking about the fact that I probably wouldn't get much writing done during the summer because of my four kidlets.  This shouldn't have been a surprise since they're pretty grown but yet...SURPRISE! Which meant that I wrote half of it in a two week span after the kids went back to school. It was made easier by the fact that it was already heavily outlined so I just had to write.

That process was somewhat hectic and I made my besties life hectic too. Thank God, she still loves me.

This is how it went:

I write chapter.
I send it to Carrie to read while I write next chapter.
Carrie reads it and gives her opinion and kind of sort of edits it then sends it back.
I send Carrie the next chapter while I rewrite first chapter.
Carrie does her reading mojo and sends it back while I send her the rewritten chapter.

Confused yet?  Me too. But this is how it went until hours before my book was due to my editor, Liz.  I didn't write a single chapter in order. I worked on what I felt like at the time. Of course it wouldn't be me unless I saved the hardest chapter to write for the very end. I was literally sweating and swearing until Carrie sent the a-okay on it.  Then I put all the chapters together and sent my manuscript to my editor and then I fell asleep. The process was so stressful that I slept for a few days and didn't feel like reading anything. ::gasp:: I know!!!! I always feel like reading. It was cray cray.

I was relieved to finally hand it over to my editor. She had it for three weeks for first edits.
She sent it back to me and I had it for two weeks to go through all 5600 change suggestions.  Because all edits are suggestions and 99.999% are good suggestions.

Once I was finished, I sent it back to her for second edits. And believe me, it needed it. She had it for two weeks and returned it with several thousand less edit suggestions.

I had it for a week to go through the edits then returned it to her for proofreading.
Phew!  It's a long crazy process that I'm sort of kind of getting used to. 

The best part of going through this process with Until Now is that it made me re-excited to finish Love You, Always.

I learned so many lessons from this process and the best one of all is that I still have no idea what I'm doing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

They just won't shut up.

When it came to writing, I was always meh. I didn't think I was a horrible writer but I wasn’t a good one either. What I did have was an active imagination. I always had story ideas floating around in my head.

Being a shy child who moved around a lot, I spent more time in my head then with friends. I usually didn’t mind, and most of the time preferred it.

As a kid, I would roll around on my roller skates and dream about being someone else, somewhere else. At times I would be a champion roller skater at other times I lived in a big tree house on an island just like the Swiss Family Robinson family. 

At some point in my life, I lost that part of me. I think it was somewhere between having my first child and my last.  I hadn’t even realized I lost it. I was too sleep-deprived and stuck in survival mode of motherhood to remember what I was missing.  But once I decided to finish my manuscript of Love you, Always, the spark was reignited.  In the six weeks it took me to finish the first draft of my first novel, I came up with nearly forty more book ideas.

I kid you not.

It was like a door to the other side of my brain was opened and all these characters tumbled out.  They were so loud and demanding that I had to stop what I was working on so I could write down what they wanted me to know. It was distracting, sometimes annoying but also exciting.

I was back!

It hasn’t stopped.  My characters at times are as real as you and you and YOU.  They talk to me, sometimes I overhear their conversations and sometimes they tell me about themselves by showing me, like watching a movie. Maybe that makes me crazy. If so, then I like being crazy.