Sunday, November 18, 2012

So, what is your book about?

This often-asked question is sometimes hard for me to answer. I'm glad that people are interested in my book, but if my book is not complete, it's difficult for me to talk about because I still have unanswered questions and storyline details I'm not completely sure about. Once it is finished, it is a lot easier to tell others about it.

Even then, however, sometimes it's hard to describe the book in just one or two concise sentences. I'm never sure just how much to say so that there are enough details to explain it, but I don't give away too much. My publisher had me send them a blurb, and I think I definitely gave too much away in it. They tweaked it quite a bit.

Here is a simple, concise summary of my book:

The Huaca is a Young Adult novel. Seventeen-year-old Ellie Cummings is still recovering from her mother’s murder and weird boy, Gabe De La Cruz seems to know way too much about her dead mother.
Ellie turns to Gabe who claims he can communicate with her dead mother. In this haunting mystery, your heartstrings will be tugged as Ellie takes a chance and discovers that the truth may be better kept a secret.

The last sentence was added by my publisher.

Here is a link to where the book is listed and can be pre-ordered.

There is no image available yet. I saw a preliminary cover several months ago, but the publisher is still working on it. I am excited to see the finished cover once it is complete

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Inspiration can come from anywhere or... How I got scolded at The Home Depot

Inspiration for writing can come from anywhere, and I am always on the lookout for story ideas and characters. Sometimes a particular person, scenario, or conversation will catch my attention, and I will observe or listen for details that might inspire some future storyline, dialogue, or character. 

Some of my previous characters have been based on: a woman I saw at a local parade one day, a basketball player I heard speak once, an eccentric neighbor who used to live down the street from me, an overly-opinionated woman I used to know, a teenager who was an intern at a non-profit where I used to work.

Inspiration is all around us, and I'm very vigilant about those around me--almost too vigilant sometimes. So, I look around; I notice people around me. As Ferris Bueller would say:  "If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." You could miss that spark of inspiration that might be the basis of the next  storyline, the next book.

Finding a balance is important though. You don't want to be found staring at someone as you try to figure out their deal or find how you might use them or their circumstance in your next book.

In September 2008, the approaching hurricane Ike caused residents of Corpus Christi to flood hardware stores such as The Home Depot in search of supplies. We were fortunate; we had wooden boards to cover our window. We were, however, in need of thick wood screws, so we ventured out to The Home Depot. 

There was a huge line of 20-30 people waiting for plywood to board up their windows. Many of them were in line for over 2 hours and could likely wait 2 more hours for the plywood to be delivered. There were trucks coming from other places (San Antonio, I assumed) to stock the stores in Corpus Christi.

As I was browsing for screws, I couldn't take my eyes off the long line of those waiting for plywood.  The line wrapped around the perimeter of the store. People were standing in line in desperate hope that enough plywood would come in time for them to board up their houses and evacuate. Thoughts ran through my mind--how might they be feeling? What are their circumstances? What's going to happen? I think that authors evaluate their surroundings and the people around them with a curiosity that is always on and never gets shut off. At least it is that way with me. 

And that is when.... I got scolded at The Home Depot. 

A man, standing in line, met my staring eyes and said: "What--do you think we're monkeys at the zoo?" I quickly tore my eyes away from the line, grabbed my screws, and shamefully headed for the long lines in the front. He was right. I was being rude, watching them in their time of discomfort. So, there is a fine line between watching the world around your for inspiration and intruding on the privacy of others. I am in constant search of that fine line, trying to make sure I don't cross it.

My curiosity of the world around me is always on. I am always thinking, thinking, thinking. I'm not a very talkative person. Some people might find me quiet, but that is because I'd rather be thinking than talking. I wake up in the morning with characters, storylines running though my head, and I go to sleep with those same thoughts running rampant through my brain. I know it might seem strange, but that is who I am.

So, if you find that you are in same position as I am, watching the world around you for character ideas and storylines, just make sure you find the right balance between "looking around once in a while" and getting scolded at The Home Depot.