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!



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.



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.



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.


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.



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

Wordy Wednesday (“Writer’s Digest Conference 2013, Notes Part 4”)

Goodness, I feel like I have an affinity for feeling like crap, lately. I was sick last week, I had a really wretched headache a couple of days ago, and today I’ve basically just been lying in bed, popping Tylenol and attempting to sleep. And it’s stupid, because I actually feel guilty right now for feeling so crappy, because I’m a baby when it comes to all this sick-kind-of-stuff, and therefore I basically just shut down for the day the moment I feel bad AT ALL.

Which means I have turned into a unproductive slug this past week. And I have so much to do right now (namely trying to find a way to make space for all my college stuff, plus cleaning my Hoarders-worthy bedroom, plus actually, you know, WRITING). And instead of doing any of that, I’ve just been sleeping for thirteen hours a day and filling the rest of my time with HGTV.

In the small pockets of time that I have been productive during the past week, I have done the following things:

  • Fed the cat. Played with the dog. Neither of which are actually very productive activities (they just make me feel like I’m doing something).
  • Done the dishes/cleaned the kitchen/cleaned the bathroom (these are my excuses for not doing anything that actually needs to get done).
  • Read writing from back in middle school (I have a sincere fascination with the way I actually have basically not improved at writing at all since the seventh grade).
  • Eaten lots of really bad foods. Like donuts and pizza and other greasy things (I tried to eat a salad last night… “tried” being the operative word).
  • Dyed my hair. (You voted. It happened.)

Snapshot_20130507_13Unfortunately, this one act of productiveness has led to a severe increase in the number of times per day I burst out in song instead of doing other productive activities, because I like to pretend I look like the Little Mermaid now.

But anyway, I’m going to stop boring you with my state of slug-ness now, and actually let’cha get to what you came for: the final installment of my Writer’s Digest Conference East 2013 notes. Yay!

If you haven’t read my notes from the past few weeks, you can check them out by following the following links:

Part 1: Going from Aspiring Writer to Published Author

Part 2: Publishing Short Stories

Part 3: Perfecting Your Craft

This week’s topic is Keynote Addresses of Greatness. I say “of greatness” because they were all basically totally awesome–hopefully my notes detailing them manage to inspire you even a smidgen of the amount I was inspired by the speakers in person.

(Unfortunately, though, I don’t have any notes on the Opening Keynote Address from Friday evening, with James Scott Bell, because we got to the conference late despite our mad dash from the airport, and I couldn’t grab out my notebook to take notes without disturbing all the other writers in the room–and, believe me, those people have sharp pencils and an advanced knowledge of different ways of doing away with people. So I wasn’t going to rock the boat.)


Saturday Keynote Address [4-6-13]

Speaker: Adriana Trigiani

          Examine how books are displayed in the bookstore; check the agents of your favorite authors. Those are who you should be targeting.

          Your story is waiting to be read—it’s your job to get it read.

          Confidence comes from a stranger reading your book, not your friend.

          Find a writer’s group—but if there’s bad energy, get out.

          “You’re artists. Use your art.”

          Feel free to start your OWN writer’s group if yours is bad.

          You get one shot at this—you’ve gotta get it done

          You get discovered because you WANT to get discovered.

          If you want the lit world to invest in you, you have to invest attention in them—make friends with your indie bookstore owners, libraries, etc.

          It’s about the readers, not the Twitter followers

          The author is SERVING THE READER

          Playwriting—have to join drama guild, find a director who loves our work

          Fun fact: Sea green is the in color this year

          Titles are like shoes; you’ve gotta try a lot on before you find one that fits

          If you’re burning out, it’s because you’re working too much

          Revise at the end

          You’re young—look for the agent who is the older version of you

          “Words are living things.”


Closing Keynote Address [4-7-13]

Speaker: Tayari Jones

          You have EVERYTHING you need to be a writer

          Information is power—subscribe to all the writer mags

          Being a writer has NEVER been easy

          This business is for the persistent, inspired, brave, and crazy

          Being scared to chase your dreams, so you just don’t do anything instead, is “the emotional equivalent of looting in your own street.”

          “Once you commit to igniting your creativity and passion, doors will open for you.”

          You have to take chances—you have to be brave enough to take chances

          The writer’s life is seeing how good you are at rebuilding

          “The water has been spilled, but the pitcher isn’t broken”—there’s always more opportunity for the future.

          “Publish or perish”—motto for how to be an author

          You gotta get your work done—once you’ve done your part, the world will do the rest.

          The energy you put out there in life is the energy you get back

          Depending on proving the haters/detractors wrong in order to get your motivation is like eating candy for dinner—you’ll have energy for a minute, but then you’ll crash.

          “I want to be paid for my writing. We all do. But I don’t want to write for money.”

          Don’t be intimidated by anything, least of all your own career.

          Learn to love the challenges.

          You don’t need to have a lot of time to be a writer—you just need SOME time. You just need to TAKE the time.

          Set reasonable goals.

          MFA programs—go where you can get financial aid.

          Find a mentor. Best way to do that: be open to being a good mentee.

          Grants and awards like grants and awards; get one, and they build on one another.

          Check out “Grants and Awards Available to American Writers.”


… And that’s it! That’s all my notes! We’re finally finished!


I know. I never thought this day would come either.

You know what that means? It’s the return of our weekly Wordy Wednesday voting process! You know what to do.

Talk to you later!