Friday, February 13, 2009

Book Group Questions

My friend, Erin, hosted a book group in San Antonio where I used to live. They discussed my book, Reasonable Doubt. What a honor to have my book selected. I'm so grateful. They had some questions, and I thought I would share the answers here on my blog if anyone else is interested.

How long did it take you to write the story?

The whole process took about two years, but I was writing the sequel at the same time.Did you have a plot in mind when you started writing, or did your story evolve as you were writing?When I sit down to start a story, I already have most of the story mapped out in my head. Before I start to write, I usually have 2-3 nights of laying in bed thinking up the whole story. I just lay there and think about the characters and the plot. Then I write down a small list of plot points, usually one small notebook page. Then, I take that page and start writing. As I write each scene, I cross it off. As I go, I usually add things to the list as I get ideas for other scenes or characters. I don't write in order. I usually start at the beginning, but then I jump to my favorite scenes and write those. My story usually stays the same as I initially imagined it. It doesn't change much from what I first came up with.

Do you have any fun stories while writing? (Like seeing the characters in people around town, etc) I don't have a lot of fun stories, but sometimes I do look around trying to find someone to match what my character in my head is like. I saw a lady at a parade once and she was perfect for one of the characters in my current manuscript. I'm also currently on the lookout for a Hispanic man, late 20's early 30's, for one of my current characters. I almost saw one at the park the other day, but he was shorter than I'd imagined.

Did you have anyone in mind while creating different characters? Sometimes, I do have someone in mind. In Reasonable Doubt, Pablo to me, for some reason, looks like Mark Consuelos (Kelly Ripa's husband) and Julia, to me, looked like actress Annie Parisse from a soap opera I used to watch, As the World Turns. And Mick, to me looked like Mark Madsen who is a Mormon basketball player that played for the Lakers. I don't always have someone specific in my mind, but for some reason, in this book, I did.

Did you struggle with any of the characters development? (I remember you had mentioned once while you were writing that you were worried that Julia wasn't likeable) Yes, I was worried about Julia because a few people said she wasn't likeable. A few people have told me that. I like her; I just think she's been through a lot, but that's who she is and I wanted to keep her that way. I struggled with Pablo a bit too because I wanted to find some flaws for him. I wondered if he was interesting enough.

How did you go about the editing process? Edits are so hard and take me a long time. I usually have 2-3 people read it and give me feedback. I listed to what they say a lot. I usually change at least 90 % of what they suggest. It seems they're almost always right. After I make the suggested changes that I agree with, I print it out and read the whole thing over to proofread it.

Do your characters lives come up in discussion with your friends and family? I don't talk about them with friends & family at all. I talk very little about my story with others until it's all done. I don't know why. I just keep them closely guarded to me, probably because my characters are so close to me that I don't want others to see them or evaluate them until they're all done and completely formed. I do, however, think about them a lot during the writing process. When I'm writing a particular story, I go to sleep thinking about them and wake up to think about them. They're in my head most of the day.

And the most important of you have that chicken enchilada recipe! :) Ha, ha. No, I don't have a recipe. I'm actually a terrible cook and my enchiladas wouldn't be so good, certainly not 'second best in the whole world' or they'd be from canned enchilada sauce. I do like how some books have recipes at the end. That's a cute idea.

The restaurant in Provo, was it Los Hermanos?...It was not Los Hermanos. I had a more mom and pop place in mind, something on Center Street, a real authentic, small place. I once went to a Salvadorean restaurant on Center Street in Provo where 2 people worked--the girl who took the orders and her mom who cooked them. They would bring one item out at a time as it was ready. I loved that place, and that's kind of what I imagined. Mixmached silverware and dishes. I could just see Pablo & Julia at a place like that because I think they care more about the food than the atmosphere or presentation.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Books So Far

Here is a list of all the books I've written so far. Some of them will never be seen, but writing them helped me become a better writer, and so they served their purpose even though they'll just live on my hard drive forever with no place to go.

Higher Learning- I started this when I was 16 and had just bought my first computer. It was a bit autobiographical and really based on how I wanted my life to be. College, marriage, career, and babies prevented me from finishing this until more than 10 years later. When I finished it, I submitted it and then soon realized how awful it was. It's a good story, but the writing is so bad. So, I researched and learned how to write a novel.

As It Seems- I started writing this right after I realized that Higher Learning was no good. I knew I could do better. It is better. I still love the story, but the writing is not as good as it should be. One friend has read it and says she really likes it, but publishers didn't. It was rejected. It could take some major re-writes to make it publishable, but I don't know if I have it in me. I'd much rather write something new.

Star Shining Brightly- I wrote this one after As It Seems. My writing had improved, and I finally found a publisher. It was published in 2006

Reasonable Doubt- I wrote this at the same time I was writing the one below. They stories go together, and I kind of liked writing them together. I would take a break from one to write the other. I actually finished the one below first, but it actually takes place 5 years after this one. So, after I finished it, I had to put it aside to finish Reasonable Doubt which was published in 2007.

One On One (re-named Pick-Up Games)- I had a lot of fun writing this one. It's probably my favorite if I can really have one. There was a time in my life when I really loved and followed sports--before kids--and this one has such an emphasis on sports that I felt I was re-living that fun time.

Watching From the Sky (I'm re-naming this; I'm just not sure what)- I just finished this one this month. It's different from the others, and it's the most meaningful to me. I think my writing is so much better in this one than the others. (At least I hope.) It is still being edited and hopefully submitted soon.

As you can see, writing is a looong process. I started re-writing Higher Learning in 2002 and my first book didn't get published until 2006. If you're a writer and you're feeling discouraged about your manuscript, just keep writing. Your writing will get better. It's like anything, with practice, you improve.

Whitney Finalists Announced

The Whitneys are an awards program for LDS authors and is named after Orson F. Whitney. This year is the second annual Whitney Awards and will be held on April 25th in Provo, Utah. I had the pleasure of attending the first annual awards ceremony last year, and it was so much fun. What a great awards program.

Yesterday, the Whitney Awards Finalists for 2008 were announced. I've only read 4 of the finalists, so I have a lot of reading to do the next few months. As a member of LDStorymakers, I am a member of the Whitney Academy and will get to cast my vote in April. I ordered a bunch of books today and need to start reading right away.

If you've read any book by an LDS author, published in 2009, you can start voting for next year's awards. Click here to nominate a book for next year.

Congratulations to all the finalists!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Valentine's Day Book Giveaway

Want to win a book? My bloggy friend, Brittany, is doing a Valentine's Day Book Giveaway. Go to her blog for a chance to win one of several books. My book, Star Shining Brightly, is one of the possible prizes.

Plus, her blog is so funny. I crack up all the time when I read it. You will too!