The Moon Sisters will release in paperback and audiobook (performed by Julia Whelan) on September 4th! Try for one of five paperbacks by entering on Goodreads (link below). Good luck!
My friend and fellow writer Irene McGarity contacted me last week to see if I might be interested in answering a few questions about my process for a Writing Process blogathon. Essentially, she explained, the tour is like a chain letter for writers, in which a writer answers four questions then invites another writer to answer those questions the following week. Alrighty, I said; I’m in.
Here’s my contribution.
1) What are you working on?
Three things I can’t talk about, for superstitious reasons. Only two are related to novels, though.
Something I can talk about– I’m working on the upcoming Writer Unboxed Un-Conference, which will occur this November in Salem, MA. You can learn more about that HERE.
2) How is your work different from others’ work in the same genre?
There’s been some debate about what it is I write and how to label it, which makes this question interesting–and might also provide the answer, haha.
I’ll say that I’ve read some books that feel…tentative. The conflict is tepid (comfortable). The characters are friendly (comfortable). The ending is predictable from page ten (comfortable). Once I fully understand what it is that I’m trying to write–which usually doesn’t happen until after the first draft has been written–my goal is to veer toward the authentic. Authentic happenings are not always comfortable ones. Even when they are, writers should beware; good stories are about conflict in one form or another.
3) Why do you write what you do?
I write what latches to my imagination conceptually, but I stay for the people that evolve on the page.
In general, I gravitate toward weird people matters like twin phenomena (The Last Will of Moira Leahy) and synesthesia (The Moon Sisters).
4) How does your writing process work?
My writing process is, itself, a work-in-progress. It used to be that I wrote daily, out of pure joy for it. That changed over the last few years, but I’m gradually falling back in love with writing and into a regular routine.
While I won’t say that I wait for the muse to strike, I do find it difficult to face the page when the mood isn’t right. When I’m at my best, I’m writing every day. Writing might mean literally typing or writing on paper, or it might mean studying the characters or the plot, or worrying a scene on a long walk. Whatever form it takes, I need to be alone with the story in my head every day for the work to come alive and stay alive. Otherwise it’s like a music box, and the magic ends when the lid shuts. I have to continually wind the back of the box and keep the lid open so that I’m fed by the process itself — the music that is story all around me.
Who have I talked into answering these questions? Kathleen Bolton!
Kathleen Bolton (AKA Ani Bolton) co-founded Writer Unboxed with me, and is the author of several fantastic stories including STEEL AND SONG. Check out her website HERE.
The first draft of The Moon Sisters is similar in some ways to the final draft of The Moon Sisters, but it is also very different. In the first draft, I experimented with writing a third-person point-of-view for Olivia, among other things.
Here’s a peek of the first graph of my first draft of this story:
My sister began staring at the sun shortly after our mother died, because she swore it smelled like her. For me, it would always be the scent of oven gas, because that’s how Mama went—fumes pouring out, her breathing them in. Like Sylvia Plath, my father said, because Mama was a tortured writer, too, but I don’t think it was suicide.
How does this differ from the final? In two significant ways.
- The final draft includes a short chapter called Ground Zero: The End of the Beginning. It’s in Olivia’s perspective, as opposed to Jazz’s perspective (above) and reveals what it was like for Olivia the day her mother died. That new content added drama, heart, and deep empathy for one of our protagonists, right from the start.
- Though the above graph is mostly the same as what you’ll read once you begin Chapter One: The Foolish Fire of Olivia Moon, it’s significantly different in that Jazz says here, “I don’t think it was suicide.” Ultimately, I worked out that Jazz does believe her mother killed herself, and that it is Olivia who rejected that idea.
First drafts are exploratory, and I definitely use them for that purpose. With time and thought, with input from critique partners and editors, and with lots of roll-up-the-sleeves hard work, stories are bettered.
The Taste of Hope Contest is now closed, and a winner has been chosen with the help of a Random Number Generator. Congratulations to Karen Halsted! Karen has been contacted, and will receive the sensory prizes described below.
Thank you to all who participated! This contest was loads of fun for me. I enjoyed reading all of your creative entries–even the ones that made me hungry. And you know what? I think Olivia and Jazz Moon would have approved of all of this cross-wired creativity, too. Well, at least Olivia.
Happy Reading, everyone, and thank you again.
Moon Sisters was released on March 4th, and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate here than to have a great contest! But what sort of contest is worthy of The Moon Sisters?
The story of The Moon Sisters wouldn’t have occurred at all if, one night, Olivia Moon hadn’t dreamed that she’d seen a will-o’-the-wisp light over a bogland, and that it tasted like hope. The taste of hope filled her with joy and helped her to shed what had seemed an overwhelming sadness, and so she clung to it and set out to find a will-o’-the-wisp for real.
Not everyone can taste hope, but a synesthete might. Synesthesia is a condition whereby a person’s sensory areas are uniquely wired, so that they might smell sights or taste ideas or see sound.
Though not many of us can taste hope in reality, we can still imagine it.
What would hope taste like for you?
Share your imaginings here and be entered to win a sensory gift package worthy of The Moon Sisters:
KIS OILS. This gift pack of six oils includes the following scents: peppermint, lavender, sweet orange, tea tree, lemongrass, and eucalyptus. These are 100% pure essential oils, therapeutic grade.
COLORFUL MOLESKINE DATEBOOKS. Some of us, like Olivia, can see a calendar in our minds–a personal and constant visual of months and days and years. The rest of us need a real calendar to keep things straight. Olivia would approve of this, though: color-coded moleskine date books to get you through 2014 without any confusion.
CHOCOLATE. According to Olivia, a clear blue sky always smells of warm chocolate and adrenaline, and I suppose we’ll have to take her word for it. Winner will receive a selection of chocolate, chosen just for you by Therese. Milk or dark, your choice.
THE MOON SISTERS One winner will receive a signed, personalized hard cover edition of The Moon Sisters from Therese’s personal stash.
Hungry for a win? Leave your comment here to officially enter the contest. A winner will be chosen at random on March 25th.
What would hope taste like to you?
Or, if you’d rather tackle another sense:
What would hope look like?
What would it smell like?
What would it sound like?
p.s. Help us spread the word about this contest, and your entry will count multiple times. Just come back and leave another comment indicating you’ve shared and linking to that share. One extra entry per share.
p.p.s. You can also gain an extra entry by signing up for Therese’s newsletter HERE. (Newsletter subscribers will receive some exclusive content for The Moon Sisters, first access to contests, and more.) Just be sure to loop back to announce you’ve become a subscriber for your extra shot at the