Wordy Wednesday (“Novel Inspiration”)

This week’s Wordy Wednesday is going to be an overview of how I got the inspiration for my novels, as suggested by my writing friend Joan of The Spastic Writer. (Check her out!)

I’ve written five novels so far, along with co-writing This Is a Book with Mel, and I’m currently writing a sixth novel. I’m only going to talk about a few of them today, though, because at least two of those manuscripts will never see the light of day (I pray to God). Let’s get started!

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Forgotten

What It’s About: Forgotten tells the intertwining stories of fourteen-year-old Janie Adams–a seemingly normal high school freshman–and fifteen-year-old Kyle Orchar–a spy working for the US government. When Kyle is assigned to track down a young terrorist at Janie’s high school, chaos ensues as Janie develops a crush on him and he decides she’s the terrorist. But who is Janie Adams really?

My Inspiration: I wrote Forgotten my freshman year of high school. At the time, I had never before read a spy book or seen a spy movie or even had any inkling of an interest in spies. But I somehow had gotten this random idea about a teenage boy spy falling in love with a civilian girl with a shifty past, so Forgotten was born anyway. Freshman year was fairly boring–my classes were easy and I didn’t have a lot of friends–so I basically just thought up things that would make my school experience more interesting, and that ended up being Forgotten.

The novel’s shallow and pretty poorly written, but I still love it for acting as my training wheels in the publishing industry. Although it’s the second novel I completed, it’s the first one I queried, and Forgotten really taught me the ins and outs of the process.

*****

Dreamcatcher

What It’s About: Dreamcatcher is about Lauren Brender, a sixteen-year-old girl who realizes she’s in a coma and the past several months of her life have actually been taking place in a dreamworld constructed by her subconscious to try to confuse her out of waking up. With the help of her conscience, personified in the dream-version of her best friend Joshua, she has to fight against her subconscious and the lures of the dream in order to return to reality–but is it worth it?

My Inspiration: This was the fourth novel I wrote, but the first one that I planned very much ahead of time. I wrote Dreamcatcher for NaNoWriMo my senior year of high school (Forgotten was my freshman year NaNoWriMo), and I began working on plans for it around March of my junior year.

The idea for Dreamcatcher came out of the fact that, at the time, I had a really huge crush on a boy who just wanted to be friends. I started having dreams in which we were together, and it made me start wondering: if I could stay in those dreams, which were nice but I knew weren’t real, would I? At the same time, I was in a creative writing class at school and needed to write a short story, so I decided to turn my question into my story. Only–after half a page or so, I realized it was going to be a much longer story than I could turn in for my assignment. So I saved it for a novel instead.

Dreamcatcher was the first novel I put a lot of myself into–writing it in order to help me through some problems I was having in my life at the time rather than just writing it for fun, the way Forgotten had been. It deals with divorce (some people I loved dearly were getting divorces at the time), and grief (I had lost both of my dad’s parents and my great-grandmother in the past three years, and my cat died while I was writing the first draft), and a lot of other stuff.

Although I’ve had to temporarily shelve Dreamcatcher because it needs a lot more work than I have the time or capability to do right now, I still think of it as my baby. I really hope someday I can get it good enough to publish, because it means the world to me.

*****

Cadence

What It’s About: Cadence tells the story of Olivia, a seventeen-year-old reluctant assassin who must work for an underground organization of vigilantes in downtown Chicago despite her aversion to their methods of dealing with people (basically: kill first, ask questions later) or find herself on the wrong side of the gun.

My Inspiration: The story behind Cadence is tricky. If you really want to go all the way back to the beginning, it starts with a novel I never finished called Petra’s Driving School, which was a companion to Forgotten. I got the idea for PDS in a dream the summer between sophomore and junior years of high school, because why not, and it was about a girl from downtown Chicago who gets kidnapped by a spy organization (called, you guessed it: Petra’s Driving School) and trained to become a “driver”–basically, the person who drives the getaway car for the spies of the organization Kyle of Forgotten works for. I worked on PDS for more than a year, but could never get it to work quite right, and I ultimately abandoned it.

Fast forward to the summer after my senior year, and I found myself with a whole new story–much darker and bigger–utilizing all the parts of PDS that I had loved.

When it comes down to it, Cadence and Petra’s Driving School are two very separate stories–they’re more like cousins than identical twins. But Cadence never would have happened without PDS.

Like with Dreamcatcher, a lot of the underlying themes of Cadence I took from my own life, as I worked through those questions and problems. Por ejemplo: where I left of with grief with Dreamcatcher, Cadence picks up.

*****

The End Where I Begin

What It’s About: The End Where I Begin is the story of eighteen-year-old Alexa Dylan, who lives in an alternate dimension in which alternate realities exist linearly of one another (basically: you can hop between them if you want to). When Alexa’s reality self-destructs, the government sends her on to the next reality linear to theirs, four years in the past, in order to prevent the same thing from happening there.

My Inspiration: This is the novel I’m working on right now. If everything goes as planned, it’ll be the sixth novel I finish, with Cadence being my fifth. With everything that’s been happening lately (going to college, making new friends, meeting celebrities, etc) I’ve been thinking a lot about change and how I’m basically a completely different person now from who I was at the beginning of high school. I wondered what would happen if someone who had graduated from high school got to go back to the beginning of their freshman year–What would they do different? What would they do their best to keep the same? That plus a fascination with alternate realities eventually led to the idea being The End Where I Begin.

What else will inspire a part of this novel? I guess I’ll find out as I go.

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So that’s it for today. Thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with me, here! (Whenever I think of Forgotten, it makes me feel really old.) If there’s a writing-related topic you’d like me to cover in a future Wordy Wednesday, make sure to vote for that option in the poll below and then let me know what you’d like me to talk about in the comments.

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~Julia

PS. Reminder that I’ll be posting more about my England trip soon, so keep watching the blog for that!

GUTGAA: Next Big Thing Award

Recently I was tagged for the Next Big Thing Award by the lovely Carrie-Anne, as part of all the GUTGAA fun. So sweet, right? Make sure to go check out her blog!

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What is the working title of your book?

Dreamcatcher

Where did the idea come from?

Seeing as I’m a teenage girl, I’ve had my fair share of unattainable crushes, and I wondered: what if you could get that dream guy, despite him being way out of your league? What if your entire life was like that? Like one long, perfect dream?

What genre does your book fall under?

This is sort of a tricky answer, since I’ve changed my genre classification like five times now. At the moment I think I’ve finally settled on YA speculative fiction, but that’s not a guarantee. There are elements of romance and thriller and mystery and contemporary and scifi, and it’s all thrown together into one big mushy mess that possibly falls under speculative. I think.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

I’m not really sure… I’d honestly love to play my MC Lauren, even though I know that’s even more impossible than a movie ever getting made. I’d probably be good with anyone but Kristen Stewart, ultimately. As far as Joshua, my guy lead, goes, I’m torn between Andrew Garfield and Josh Hutcherson. They’re both just so perfect. *swoon*

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Stuck in a dream version of her life, sixteen-year-old Lauren Brender must battle against her own subconscious in order to wake up from a coma (and yes, there are explosions).

Will your books be self-published or represented by an agency?

Represented by an agency or bust.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Four and a half months—I wrote about 58,000 words in November for NaNoWriMo, another 10,000 over winter break, and then put it aside for a couple months until March, at which point I went on a writing spree for a few days and finished it out at 82,000 words. Seeing as most of that writing was done during classes, I’m pretty sure my teachers appreciated it when I was done.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

For creative writing class my junior year, I had to write a short story. At the time, I was going through this really bad I-like-him-but-he-just-wants-to-be-friends sort of ordeal, and I had the idea about having a dream life, which seemed like it’d be a good place to start for the assignment. However, I barely got a page in before I realized how impossible it would be to fit the entire plotline into a short story, so I decided to save it for my senior NaNoWriMo instead. So I guess that’s my inspiration? Not really sure. A lot of the subplot stuff throughout it was influenced by what was going on in my life when I began writing it in November 2011; writing about everything helped me work through my own issues.

What else about your book would pique the reader’s interests?

There’s romance and action and attractive guys, along with some deeper-meaning stuff like working through abandonment and grief.

A lot of people talk about writing the books they wanted to read—I wrote the book I didn’t want to read, but needed to. (I know. I’m so deep and philosophical-like.)

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I’m tagging fellow GUTGAA participants:

Kira Budge

Jadzia Brandli

Thanks for reading!

~Julia

Update on that “Waiting to Edit” Situation…

Yeah, I sort of failed at that.

 

Oh well, I guess?

 

Shhh… don’t tell the Editing Fairies.

It has now been a little over three weeks since I finished the first draft of Dreamcatcher, and since then I’ve done a second draft myself, had one of my amazing critique friends do a critique (and implemented her changes into a third draft), and now I’m eager to do more revising, just as soon as my other two amazing critique friends finish up. And then I’m giving it to my mom to edit. And then I’m giving it to one of my English teachers to edit (believe it or not, I currently have multiple English teachers — that’s what happens when you’re way too obsessed with English).

… And, in conclusion, I’m probably going to have like a billion and one drafts done by the time my “two month waiting period” is up and I actually get to the point where I’m allowed to look at it.

So… oh well?

Happy Easter Weekend!

~Julia

The Trials and Tribulations of Waiting to Edit

This is what I look like whenever I realize I need to edit something:

 

… But you know what’s even worse than that? When I try to follow that oh-so-popular rule of waiting to edit after I’ve finished a first draft…

… for TWO. FREAKING. MONTHS.

It’s been less than a week since I finished writing the first draft of my current novel, Dreamcatcher, and already I’m dying to get the red pen out.

I swear I’m about to have a mental breakdown.

What do you think about waiting so long between drafts? Is it a good thing — because it allows you to better separate yourself from your work — or do you think it would be better to start right away so you know that all of your ideas are still fresh in your head? Let me know in the comments!

~Julia

Wordy Wednesday (“Dreamcatcher” Excerpt)

My dog Sammy’s currently snoring away on one side of my room while I attempt to do my homework (blargh) on the other, and I’m really, really jealous of her. Just thought I’d share that.

In other news, here’s your Wordy Wednesday! This is the first draft of the beginning of the novel I’m currently writing, called Dreamcatcher.

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      —– [Sorry! Taken down due to the novel now being in revisions!] —–

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… Now, if you could please excuse me while I go back to counting down the days ’til the weekend, I would be much obliged. 😉

~Julia