Involving Outsiders (aka my friends)

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friends1

Friend 1:

“So my dad and my sister wrote a book.”

“I wanna read it.”

“But you don’t even know what it’s about.”

“Okay what’s it about?”

“Well, it’s about-”

“I wanna read it.”

Friend 2:

“So I have this description I want you to read (insert some story about Amazon sending me descriptions of soon-to-be-published books).”

*reads description* “Ooo this sounds good!”

“Yeah I thought so too. But I kinda lied…my dad and my sister wrote that book.”

“No way. I wanna read it.”


There were so many times when I wanted to tell my friends about Changers and so many times I stopped myself. I wanted to wait and tell them when it was finally done. When all the major plot changes had been made and when we were FINALLY ready for outsiders to read it.

We’re still making changes and tweaks but I can’t wait to get some feedback. Partly because I know the authors but mostly because I helped. I may not have “written” any words on the manuscript but I helped edit and tighten and tweak.

I’ve read quite a few books in my time and I never realized how much time goes into putting a story together and making it perfect. I love being part of the behind-the-scenes stuff and being involved in the entire process.

I just wish my friends would get back to me about Changers….*anxiously bites nails*

Limiting Details

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details

When I read a book, I have to be able to picture people and things in my head. I have to be able to kind of play a movie in my head with the book’s description. However, I don’t want the author to give me too much detail. I’d like to be able to add my own spin on the characters and places.

This begs the question: How much description is too much description?

You’re probably thinking “the limit does not exist. Use all the description.” I think this is a mistake. When you give the reader too many adjectives and start describing the irrelevant details, that’s too much description.

One thing my dad and sister had on their side when they started Changers is that they’re both avid readers. They know exactly what they want in a story. They know what they look for when starting a book. There wasn’t one time during my editing of Changers where I said “There isn’t enough detail here” or “Okay, I don’t care what her freckles would make if you played connect-the-dots on her face”.

I’ve read books where I’ve actually had to go back and find the original description of a character to realize that there is a huge continuity error. In the first chapter, someone will be described as having straight, black hair and by the end of the book, it’s curly and dirty-blonde (in Changers, this could happen *wink* but in books not about Changers, it’s not right).

The authors of Changers have made it so I can imagine the characters but I’m also allowed to make up details to complete the picture. If/When this gets turned into a movie *fingers crossed*, they won’t have a hard time finding the cast.

 

 

Reality Check Number 1

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reality check

We originally started this website to document our experiences in writing a book. It’s a way to share with anyone who wants to know, anyone who’s curious, and/or anyone who may be on the same journey. We also wanted to have a nice place to show off our talents, our personalities and a small part of our lives.

So it’s reality check time.We decided to send our – what turned out to be second-to-the-last – draft to some people that seemed genuinely interested in taking a look at our manuscript and giving us an outsider’s view of what we had created. We determined early on we wouldn’t bug these people with things like, “…so…what do you think…how far have you gotten…did you like the part where…what do you think about…”, etc. We delivered our book electronically to a few beta readers. After almost a month, we have heard not one word. From anyone. Not. One. Word.

Maybe it’s the book. Maybe it’s the story. We’ll keep looking for readers. A little better diligence and vetting next time around. We have to know what outsiders think about it.

In the meantime, editing continues.

 

 

The Book Was Better

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books to movies

“The book was better.” HA!

It seems like there’s an over-abundance of prequels, sequels, and remakes coming out of Hollywood these days. (Can you believe they’re remaking Dirty Dancing?). In the last 20 years or so, Hollywood has been buying the rights to YA (young adult) books in hopes of bringing the characters to life. And really, who wouldn’t want to see their favorite book on the big screen?

I read this about book-to-movie adaptations: it’s not easy to fit a 300-400 page book into a 2 hour movie. As much as we may hate it, there will likely be cuts. I always hope the author will have enough input with the screenplay to minimize cuts that might compromise the story.

I read The Maze Runner series by James Dashner before it was announced they were making it into a movie. Once that news was out, I kept abreast of details like casting. When Dylan O’Brien was cast as Thomas I was skeptical, so I started watching Teen Wolf on TV. In Teen Wolf, O’Brien plays a main character. Ultimately, I fell in love with the show and his acting.

Another detail that concerned me is that in the Maze Runner books, Thomas and Teresa are telepathic, although only with each other. When I heard the telepathic angle was omitted from the movie, I wasn’t happy about it – at first. Director Wes Ball said he cut the mind-reading to make the movie more realistic. I ended up loving the movie and I’m actually glad they took out the mind-reading aspect.

There are some movies that stick to the books and end up creating the perfect adaptation. I had read the back of the book If I Stay by Gayle Forman. When I heard it was going to be a movie, I wanted to read it. I love the premise because it’s different: A family gets into a car accident and the teenage daughter is in a coma. The book is about her being ‘out-of-body’ in the hospital. While out-of-body, she sees the people there to support her. She recalls significant memories but she’s faced with a choice: let herself go or stay. In the book, there’s a scene where her grandpa is talking to her while she’s in her coma. He tells her that if she needs to go, he’ll understand. I cried (I tend to get emotionally invested) and when they recreated the scene in the movie, I cried even more. To me, that’s one sign of a good adaptation.

I recently read a list of books that are being adapted for the big screen. I found my favorite series, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken has been written into a screenplay! I am beyond excited to see if it really does become a movie. Here are a few up-and-coming book-to-movie adaptations that I can’t wait to see because I loved the books:

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I can tell from the trailer there have been some big changes but I still think it’ll be a really cool movie
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
The Death Cure by James Dashner

So is it true that “the book is better”? I’ll answer it like this: The book is the raw, hardcore original, and nothing can take that away. But many times, bringing the book to life enhances an already awesome story.

Why Punks?

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punk right

Why did we decide to use Punks in the story? Why are Punks one of the three main groups of players? Why Punks, of all the groups or cultures to choose from? Why choose Punks?

  • “They were smokers and non-smokers, shy and outgoing, tattooed and pierced…or not. They sat, stood, crouched and knelt on chairs, benches, tables and sidewalks. The group was a family of individuals. Each individual was his or her own person.”
  • “…the dress part is secondary. Punk is attitude. It’s a way of thinking, a frame of mind. Punk is about being an individual. It’s someone with a beef against the profit-driven world. It’s about not buying into society and the quest for money, just for the sake of having more than the next guy. It’s not just a different fad. It’s more like a culture. There’s a reason behind the culture. It’s specifically against doing things to be part of the average person’s idea of normal society. It’s an attitude that comes from inside a person. Dressing punk is a reflection of the attitude.”

That’s why.

A Fun Scene to Write

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chair in the basement

Someone said, “We need to have a scene where Curtis is confronted by the cops.”

All righty then. Best get typing. The players in the Changers saga have to grow as the story progresses. Especially major players. Otherwise, they’d be boring. If Curtis started out as an insecure, weaselly, punk musician, and by the end of the book, he was an insecure, weaselly, punk musician, he’d be a boring player. But if he started out as an insecure, weaselly punk musician, and by the end of the story, he was a brave, confident punk musician, he’d be a badass.

Partway through the beginning of the story, Curtis is involved in two incidents that change his life. These incidents work to shape his thinking and his actions through the rest of the story. The scene mentioned above (where he’s questioned by the cops) takes place after Curtis’s ‘awakening’. An officer visits Curtis at his home and questions Curtis’s involvement in the disappearance of a local girl. In this scene, Curtis strays from what we thought was his comfort zone and makes a few wisecracks to the cop. His demeanor is less reserved, more confrontational. As the reader, you knew he had it in him, but it was repressed. In the scene, Curtis does lean on the security of his parents to a degree, so you can tell he’s not a completely changed person. That comes later.

That was a fun scene to write because we got to start shaping Curtis from nerdy geeky punk toward Curtis the badass. But that wasn’t the funnest scene to write.

Someone said, “We need to have a scene that shows Sol absorbing a human life while Sol is in his jacked up state.”

Oh, this was a fun scene to write. These two little squirrely guys become Changers and decide to cut out of The Underground City prematurely. They end up at Kutch’s house and are tasked with finding a human for Sol to absorb. These two guys, Zack and Rod, are dipshits. They can’t even do this right and they end up causing other problems. So when Rod is provided a human, courtesy of Kutch, to ‘feed’ to Sol, things get messy. After Rod pokes, prods and persuades the victim to get close enough for Sol to absorb, Rod’s task is fulfilled. Yeah, that was fun.

Even a dipshit has his day.

 

 

Beta Readers

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beta readers

Yay, we found some beta readers and sent out semi-final drafts of Changers. And we’re still looking for more. Calling people beta readers, or beta testers – or beta anything – brings to mind a room full of people sitting around a huge table, all reading the book, taking notes, making red marks, and tapping on their tablets. Or a bunch of robots lined up in a row, all perched in front of computer screens with the words of the book scrolling upwards a la The Matrix.

There were a few instructions we gave to the readers. 1) We welcome feedback, and 2) It’s a Young Adult novel. We don’t want anyone to be shy about telling us what they think, or how the book makes them feel. We’re pretty sure we snagged most, if not all the typos. We’re looking for things like pacing, whether things make sense, timing and timeline issues, etc.

Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” We put a lot of effort into trying to know what we’re talking about. Facts are important, even in fiction – we didn’t want to distract the reader by playing loose with facts. For example, we have a scene where someone is going through a candidate diffusion. In this scene, the Changers wanted to erase the character’s short term memory, but they didn’t want to eliminate (kill) her. So they went through this process to erase her short term memory. To make it credible, we researched how that would be possible. One of our beta readers has both a bachelors degree and masters degree in nursing. If our research is wrong – if we used the wrong drugs, if our character didn’t act appropriately in the moment – hopefully our nurse beta reader will let us know.

We also don’t want beta readers from our immediate family, for obvious reasons. So far, we have six readers. They look like this:

  • A 17 year-old male high school student with a 4.5 GPA.
  • A 17 year-old female high school student who excels in sports.
  • A 21 year-old female college student majoring in medicine.
  • A 28 year-old married woman in the mortgage industry.
  • A 40 year-old married nurse with bachelors and masters degrees.
  • A 41 year-old male telecommunications engineer with a bachelors degree.

Yes, Changers is YA, but people of many ages still like YA novels. It’s all in the story. We’re still anticipating more readers – we need all the feedback we can get. We’ll post the comments and feedback when received. This is getting exciting!

Title for Book Three

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Rogues, by Les and Taylor Anderson

ROGUES


The title for our first book – Changers – was a natural. Here’s a little secret: it had, and still has in parts of our filing system, a working title of Levi’s Rain. I’ll probably tell more about that later, but for now it’s not important.

As Changers progressed, it became evident there are four main types of characters in the story:

  1. Changers
  2. Punks
  3. Rogues
  4. Regular People

So with Changers being the cause of all the problems, mystery, thrills and adventure in the story, Changers was a shoe-in for the title of the first book.

We chose PUNKS for the title of the second part of the story because the Punks are the driving force behind the effort to get to the bottom of the disappearances in town. Also, because Punks are pretty much fearless and don’t much care what people think. Plus, for the most part, our Punks are pretty badass.

Well, Rogues are Changers who said, “I’m tired of all the bullshit involved with being a Changer. I’m done.” So the Rogues split from the Changers and unite with the regular people and the Punks to go up against the powerful Changers organization.

The finale of the story involves Changers, Punks, Rogues and Regular People. For the title of the finale, we chose Rogues. The title, Regular People, just didn’t seem all that exciting.

Title for Book Two

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Punks - The Book

Stacks of Notes

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notes to posts

“Write that down.”
“It sucks.”
“Write it down anyway. We might use it.”
“I had this really bizarre dream last night.”
“Did you write it down?”
“Of course. I didn’t want to suffer the wrath.”
“What, like I’m a slave driver?”
“Did you write down that dream you told us about last month?”
“I pieced it together.”
“They say you should write down your dreams as soon as you wake from them. Even if it’s the middle of the night.”
“Why? I remembered it.”
“Because it’s fresher in your mind. You’d be more likely to get all the details.”
“Well, I filled in with some stuff I made up. It was still good.”
“I was thinking about the book today. I was thinking instead of having that scene at the school, maybe we should make it at a player’s house.”
“Or with the punks.”
“Punks with a capital ‘P’.”
“Of course, that’s what I meant.”
“I’m thinking the school thing should be out anyway.”
“Maybe, but the players, at least most of them, are school age.”
“It could be summer vacation. It doesn’t have to be during school.”
“Sure. That would free them up to do more stuff. We wouldn’t have to keep saying, ‘…after school the next day…’ or wait till the weekend for something to happen, or for someone to do something.”
“Write that down.”
“I’m way ahead of you.”

Who said what? It doesn’t matter.

We had a stack of notes. The notes were an archive of blood, sweat and cheers. We wrote so much down on paper – sticky note paper, spiral-bound notebooks, printer paper, colored construction paper. We never used napkins. They rip too easily. We tapped so many notes into our phones, our tablets, our laptops. We installed and uninstalled so many different note-taking apps, we lost count.

There were no tears shed over this book. We laughed, talked, argued and got pissed at each other. In the end, we have been our own best cheerleaders – Les, Taylor and Olivia.

Now, the notes become posts. An archive of the wondrous adventure we took together – writing a story. An awesome story. Writing a book. It’s an adventure we’re still on. We choose to remain adventurers. If this book, this trilogy never goes anywhere, never gets published, we will always say it was fun. It IS fun. We’re still on it, and there’s no reason to jump off now.