July 09, 2011

There is always a beginning

I never really thought of myself as a writer. It just wasn't me I suppose. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good story, I just didn't think I would be the one telling it. All that changed about six months ago.

Reading for me as a child was pretty much something I tried to avoid, generally because it was always required for school and came with the dreaded oral book report. Good god the oral book reports... Being the shy and quiet type I didn't exactly shine in this arena so reading usually left a sour taste in my mouth. There were some books that I enjoyed, if I got to choose them, but they were usually about animals. Black Beauty, Old Yeller, and The Black Stallion were on the grid, but if I was forced to choose from a reading list...ick.

In my late twenties this changed. A friend bought me the Lord of the Rings book set as a going away gift. We had talked about movies and such and he recommended reading this set. I thought it was a nice gesture and the books got packed away. Then after taking a new job where I was stuck at an isolated desk answering a phone for eleven hours a day I decided it was a good time to pick up reading. That or pluck my eyelashes to keep myself awake. The Lord of the Rings came to work with me one day and I was never the same.

Over the next year I read somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty books. Everything from The Rings series to Harry Potter to The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, and even discovered the beautiful worlds created by Terry Brooks and his Shanara series. I was essentially hooked. I could not get enough!

Several years later when the Twilight movie was getting ready to come out in our local theaters a friend asked if I had read the books. I told her that I had not, but was intrigued but all the media hype. My friend then broke the news that it was a romance type book. That was where she lost me. I was not the romance type. I liked books with badass chicks that carried swords, books with magical worlds with the unsuspecting hero, books with elves, Orcs, dwarfs, trolls, giants, wizards, and any other fantastical creature or being. Not this silly, mushy, angst crap!

Then she told me it had vampires in it. Well now, we might be on to something. I like vampires. Interview with a Vampire is probably one of my faves of that sort. So I gave it a shot. Rachel let me borrow her copy of Twilight and I picked up Stephenie Meyers' claim to fame one afternoon with an open mind. When I got about halfway through the book I made myself put it down. That day I bought the whole series from my trusty SFBC website. Ms. Meyers had sucked me in and I was a forever changed woman.

Fast forward to winter 2010/2011, and countless YA novels later, and I started to get glimpses of an almost movie sort of thing in my mind. It was always the same scenes and the more I thought about it the more I liked what I saw. The mini-movies were complete with voices that would pop in all over my life; in the shower, before I went to sleep, when I woke up, changing the kiddo's diaper...you see where this is going.

It then dawned on me that I had an idea for a book. Me? A writer? I was not so sure so for a while I kept it to myself. The two main characters then sort of created a life of their own in my head. I could actually see them with my minds eye, hear them bicker in my ears. One day I pulled up a word doc on my laptop and started jotting down character traits for Bree and Kennon. Then I jotted down notes for G-ma and Anton.

One cold Tennessee January afternoon I decided to take a shot and get my idea out in the open. I tasked Rachel, my just as obsessed about YA fiction friend, if she thought it crazy if I wrote a book. Her response was beyond supportive and she said to go for it. She even offered to be my muse or ghost editor of sorts.

I bought a voice recorder at Wal-Mart and, while in traffic on the dreaded I-65 morning commute, I began to voice my ideas. Sitting in the mind numbing traffic was a great time for my mind to wander and also the best time for new ideas to get documented.

In February, during a ridiculously slow day at work, I opened a word doc and started typing. The opening scene had been stuck in my head for days, more like weeks, and I suddenly had a horrible itch to get it all out. That afternoon I wrote about ten pages and hit save. I smiled wide to myself. God it felt so good to get that out! My stomach was all knotted with excitement and a feeling of "where the hell did all this come from?"

What now? I had no idea so I sent Rachel an IM and asked her if she wanted to read something. She agreed and I sent the doc now entitled 'draft' to my book buddy. Her response was largely positive, with the exception of the "that's it!" disgruntlement, and she demanded more ASAP.

Four months, and nearly 600 pages later, I had my first draft of Shifted, the tentative title. It was time to get unbiased opinions. Rachel was still a huge fan after several partials for her review, but I needed to hear from readers that did not know me from Adam. So I enlisted Rachel's friend from school. I have never met her and I was sure she would be honest about the draft. A couple weeks later she told Rachel that I must publish this book and to please send her Book 2 ASAP! That is good! I was so thrilled and taken off guard by this I turned bright red, much to my dismay since Rachel saw the whole thing. Still teases me in fact...

I was not sure if one unbiased opinion would be enough so I asked my HR manager, another avid YA reader and fellow Twilight groupie, if she would like a go. She agreed and had quite the same reaction as Rachel's friend Misty. HR Kim also confessed she was rather critical of her reads and if she was not hooked in the first ten pages or so she was a goner. Kim confessed she could not put the 'blasted thing down' and how dare I 'leave Shifted in such a way with now follow up book to read.'

A couple days later Kim admitted to sending my draft to her mother, another avid reader, to see what she thought. Kim's mom was hesitant after Kim told her the origins of the draft (something like "a girl I work with wrote this") but decided to read it and give an honest third party opinion. Kim later told me her mom called her at work to tell her she was not able to get any work done because she could not stop reading Shifted. I swelled with pride.

So here I am, apparently a writer. Who knew?! I certainly did not. As I type this here blog my first draft of Shifted is in the hot and red-penned befitted editor's hand. My first draft is over 150,000 words and she is helping to size it down to a healthy yet publishable size. The due date for the...um...news is August 30th. Part of me is excited and the other part wants to vomit.

In the meantime I have completed my basic outline for Book 2 and 3 as well as starting the first chapter of Book 2. There is probably some unwritten rule to not start a second book while the first is being dissected, but too bad. My little mini movie keeps running in my head and I have to get it written before it drives me mad. It's a good mad, but mad all the same.

Now all my thoughts are this book and the possibilities of others to come. Last year at this time I was a wife, a mom, and worked in logistics. Today I am still those things, but I am also a writer. God that feels good to say...

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