It’s All In The Details

There’s a minor character in TNWSY that works at a mini-golf course. He hands people their clubs and oftentimes has to fish discarded balls out of the small lake by hole #9. He has to wear khaki shorts and a green polo shirt everyday, and he sweats through both in the Florida heat. He doesn’t like the job much, but it’s a job.

None of that is in the book.

It’s weird knowing that much about a minor character, right? I brainstormed a scene that included all of that, but never wrote it. It just didn’t fit in the end. So the character’s back story (and related scene) never came to fruition. Readers of the book won’t know about it. And yet, I know about it.

There are so many extra details that go into book that might never be read. Be it scenes never written or moments edited it out, there are always these little bits hanging around the writer’s mind and, possibly. computer. And I have so many of them!

Sometimes I forget what was cut, and just assume a certain part is still in the story because I know it so well. I assume everyone will know a main character’s favorite song because I know his favorite song.

Maybe i’ll reveal some of these things once the book is out – i’d like to, really, because otherwise they’re small details lost.

Or maybe I won’t and I’ll let readers decide where said character works in order to pay for dates with his girlfriend. Who knows. Books belong to their readers, right?

1999

Hello 90s fashion

I write about teens, for teen readers, yet I am definitely not a teen.

But I was once.

A friend posted the above photo on Facebook today, and I had to share. I mean, it’s from my junior year homecoming dance. It’s priceless.

(I’m in the red, in the middle. Fun fact: I wanted that specific dress because it looked like Rose’s in Titanic. I loved Rose’s dress.)

So that’s me and my friends taking pictures before the dance. Some of us had dates, some of us did not (I did not), but we all went as a group, and still found one another when the perfect song was on. And the best part? We’re all still friends. In fact, the girl on the right was not just one of my bridesmaids, but also one of the original readers of TNWSY. (You’ll see her mentioned in the acknowledgements.)

So that’s high school me. I wasn’t gorgeous, I wasn’t popular, I was just…me. And I was completely okay with that.

Take On Me

There’s this older Dreamcast video game called Samba de Amigo. It’s essentially Dance Dance Revolution, only with maracas. You stand on a pad and shake maracas in beat to the song (the favorite being Take on Me), posing in various position to gain points. It’s ridiculous. It’s amazing.

I played this game with my friends all too often the summer before my sophomore year of college. It was a weird, in between time for me. I was between the person I was in high school – shy and meek, and the person I was becoming in college – more outspoken, more me. Tallahassee had become my home, but I was spending the summer in Orlando with my parents and high school friends. I was both here and there, old Lauren and new.

It was the summer where I worked all day at Borders (RIP) and went right to Starbucks afterwards, where I knew one of my friends, if not all, would be. It was repetition, a daily schedule, and it felt right. With this group of friends, I felt like I was part of something bigger, something enviable. We were still young enough to make grand plans, but old enough to know that they might not come true.

Now, years and marriages and divorces and successes and failures later, we’re mostly apart, living in different states and at different stages of our lives. We’re transitioning again, and I wonder who we’ll become next, and if there’s something that’ll bring us all back together again. In a way, I know there will be.

Because in some strange nostalgic sense, we’ll always have that video game and the memories of playing it for hours when hours weren’t important and felt much longer than they should have. It’s weird to think how much joy we found in a video game, and how it brought us all together. And it’s weird to think that when I reflect on that time, and my becoming who I am today, I always, forever, hear Take on Me and shake my hands in time.

Forget How You Found Us

photo-3A bit ago I mentioned contributing to a book called FORGET HOW YOU FOUND US, part of Burrow Press’ 15 Views of Orlando series. Well, the book is out and I received my author copies yesterday! I’m in a book! So exciting!

photo 2

A bit about the project:

Burrow Press, an Orlando publisher, started a series called 15 Views of Orlando, where 15 writers each contribute their own chapter, with each chapter taking place in a different part of Orlando. The chapters, though separate, must somehow continue the story, whether by elaborating on a character, a location, a theme, etc. So, when writing, there’s no outline, no concrete plot. The first writer creates their chapter, then the second tacks his or hers on. The cool part is that writers have no idea where the plot is going once their chapter is contributed, and have no say in how the story – or even the character they create – concludes.

I had the privilege of writing the epilogue, so I was able to read the entire thing. It was weird, concluding a story that I didn’t create, and utilizing characters that started out as other people’s creations. But also extremely fun, because it was a challenge. It was something new and unique. And the plot? So different from the stuff I usually write.

And so, the book is out! It’s so neat seeing my name in print, and only adds to the bubbling thrill of TNWSY’s release next year. I’m so honored to be a part of the publication, with all the other talented authors, and can’t wait to hear what people think.

Here’s the synopsis for the book:

Forget How You Found Us is a loosely linked literary portrait of Orlando, FL as told by the city’s best writers. The stories within follow Olivia and Sabrina, two teenage sisters brand new to the “golf course community” of Lake Nona. Olivia is tired of living in the shadow of her older sister’s rebellion. Since the move, their only communication has been through notes and poems written in each other’s journals. But when Sabrina runs away from home, and Olivia’s only friend mysteriously disappears, a sequence of strange events follow both sisters, as well as a peripheral cast of characters that includes the distraught mother of the missing girl, the groundskeeper of the Kerouac House, a homeless bridge troll, and William S. Burroughs.

Read the first chapter here (which was written by a high school student, as part of the publisher’s literary outreach).

Editing Process: Step Three

(Read more here: Step One, Step Two…)

It’s been said before that publishing is very much like this: nothing, nothing, nothing, DO EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW AND YOUR DEADLINE IS TOMORROW, nothing, nothing, nothing.

I haven’t had quite the same experience. My editor is wonderful when it comes to deadlines; she doesn’t rush me, and gives me a concrete date to work towards. My experience, however, is more like this: nothing, nothing, nothing, LOTS OF UPDATES, nothing, nothing nothing. Each makes me shriek with delight.

What updates? Well, some really cool ones:

  • I’ve submitted my headshot and bio for the book jacket.
  • Speaking of, TNWSY has an official book jacket description.
  • It also has a release date…
  • AND A COVER!

Another stereotype about the publishing industry is that things remain hush hush until they can officially be revealed. Well…that’s 100% true. I can’t reveal my cover yet (it’s still being revised), nor the description. But seeing them, knowing that they’ve been created, makes everything feel so much more real. I mean, seeing your name on a cover? AMAZING.

Editorial wise, I’m done for now. Big edits for the book are complete. TNWSY is in copyediting, so soon i’ll get a draft that shows all of my grammatical issues. I’m sure there will be quite a few. I overuse commas. A lot.

So right now i’m on downtime until the next round of updates. Each ones makes me more excited than the next. And the fact that my book is officially coming out in less than a year?

AHHHH!

Doodle Dream Blog Party

My friend Jenipher Lyn has released a book! Called How Being Stubborn, Depressed, and Unpopular Saved my Life, it’s an inspirational memoir that offers honest views on issues such as depression and body image, and features both writing and drawings by her. I was asked to be part of her DoodleDream Blog party, so here’s my post on this week’s topic, Ambition.

This morning, on his way out the door, S told me that, in regards to ambition, i’m here (pointing high up) whereas normal people are here (pointing mid-body level). I’m not sure if that’s true – I mean, I’m not that ambitious – but I took it as a compliment. Ambition is a huge part of who I am, and I think it started in high school.

At age 15, I wrote in my journal, quoting the sage that is Belle from Beauty and the Beast, “I want much more than this provincial life.” At that time, I just wanted more exciting things to happen to me. As I grew, I realized that I could make exciting things happen, and I didn’t need to wait around for them. And that’s when things started changing.

  • I didn’t wait to find friends when I started college – I walked up to a girl in the food court and started talking to her. (We became good friends, and roommates the following year.)
  • I didn’t sit in my room when I wasn’t in class or hanging out with friends – I joined the circus, a film club, and got a job.
  • I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the English Literature field (which is what I was majoring in), so I got an internship at a literary journal, I freelance wrote for a local newspaper, and I started education classes.
  • After college, I jumped on it some more. I had a range of jobs, but didn’t let them be the end of me. If I didn’t like them, I found something to do on the side that would make me happy. I went out with friends. I continued to freelance. I ached for more because I knew more was out there.
  • And then I decided to pursue my master’s degree while working full time because – why not? And then I fell in love with library science and moved careers to pursue that (which, ultimately, was the perfect decision). And then I wrote a book while working full time, because I needed to. And i’m still doing that. I’m still working and writing and enjoying life with my husband and daughter.

The thing is, everyone has ambition, you just need to tap into it. You just need to accept more. And if things don’t work out? Who cares, you tried. Try again.

The thing is, I still don’t want a provincial life. I want an extraordinary one.

When George Mallory was asked by the New York Times why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he famously answered “Because it’s there.” So why do I want to accomplish so much? Because I can.

My Writing Process

YA writer Valerie Cole tagged me for the My Writing Process blog hop. She’s great, so visit her blog, or follow her on Twitter.

1) What am I working on?
A few things! Publishing is a lengthy process, so TNWSY is still in editorial stages. I should be starting copyedits within the next few months, so that’s exciting. Aside from that, I’m editing two manuscripts with my agent right now, in hopes of one of them being my follow-up book. She always finds things to pull out and elaborate on to create a much fuller manuscript, so i’m always eager to hear her thoughts.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write contemporary YA, and there’s a lot of contemporary YA out there. I like to focus on friendships, romance, and family, and how the three intersect and inform one another. I love writing strong, do-anything-for friendships, because those are what were most important to me in high school. And I like to show how they evolve over time, just as the friends themselves grow and change. And though the bonds may be different, they’re essential in a different way.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I wrote about why I write YA here! And why I write about relationships here! Check it out!

4) How does my writing process work?
First comes the idea. It’s usually a flicker, a scene or location or a character. Then I think about it for a while to figure out if it’s something I’d like to, or even can, attempt. And then I try. At first there’s not a lot of plotting (and sometimes there’s none at all), but the scenes come to come and I write them as I see them. Sometimes I jump around. Sometimes I write it in order. It honestly depends on the story, on my thought process. And sometimes, when everything is right, it’s magically finished.

So that’s my story. I was going to tag people, but I think most writers have done this already. And if not…you’re tagged! (I’m clearly not good at these blog hop.)