Archive for May, 2010

Everfound Teasers…

May 27, 2010

So everyone wants to know what to expect in Everfound. Well, I only just finished the first draft so there will still be changes from my editor but I’m hoping those changes will be finessing what’s there, and not reinventing it. I hope that the story is mostly in place. I can’t tell you too much without giving you too many spoilers, so I’ll tell you a few important things.

The largest Everlost city has yet to be discovered. It will be discovered in EVERFOUND.

Mary Hightower, already a danger, becomes even more so in this concluding book.

There’s a new character who has the power to “extinguish” afterlights. That is basically worse than killing someone, because if you’re extinguished, you cease to exist entirely. At least one major character will be extinguished in Everfound.

The Hindenburg will not stay adrift forever.

There will be some interesting and unexpected relationships between characters, both new and existing.
And some characters who you really don’t like, you’re going to change your mind about… And some character’s who you hate, you’re going to hate even more.

Skinjackers do some pretty cool, and pretty scary things with their powers –including being able to skinjack more than one person at a time…

And you’re going to love how it all ends….

Look for Everfound in June 2011…


Everfound: My life as a Dictator

May 21, 2010

My process for writing EVERFOUND was a little different than usual. Because I had a very tight deadline, and because I didn’t want to compromise the quality of the work, I sped up the process by having my assistant, Wendy Doyle, transcribe material for me. I would write my first draft in a notebook—I always do it that way. Technology is great, but there’s something important to me about getting my ideas down on paper first. Then I would dictate what I wrote into my iPhone, digital recording app after I was done for the day. Usually I had lots of trouble reading my own handwriting, so I’d be revising the whole thing as I dictated. (See image of a handwritten page.  Can you read my handwriting? Didn’t think so.)

This page, by the way, includes “place holder spaces” for two characters which I offered to name after my facebook fans.  Hundreds of kids suggested their names, and I chose twelve to use — six first names, and six last names. I use multiple colors when I’m writing for four reasons 1) To mark where I stopped writing, and started dictating 2) to mark  chapter breaks;  3) To add variety so I’m not always looking at one dull color;  4) because I can’t find the last pen I was using.

Wendy, my "ethereal" assistant

Once I’m done dictating the segment I’d just written,  I would e-mail the file to Wendy, and while I was working on the next section, she would transcribe it, send it back to me, and I would do a major revision of the transcription. (By the way, I’ve never actually met Wendy— we’ve been working for more than six months together but all by mail and internet!)

The stuff that Wendy gets is so random, so disjointed, it barely resembles a book. It’s really in the next revision that it comes together. That’s when I add the “connective tissue,” bridging the various sections, and making sure that the characters are behaving like real people. That’s crucial. I’ve learned that if the characters are real, you’ll take the wildest journeys with them — but it all rests on you believing those characters. So I built the book, handwritten, dictated, transcribed, rewritten, revised, then polished, and then did another revision of everything before writing the last fifty pages. Once I reworked it, and made sure the whole book was working, I dove into the last fifty pages…. Which turned out to be 100 pages instead of 50! More next week – some teasers about what to expect in EVERFOUND!

Everfound: Ghostly Inspiration

May 16, 2010

Early in the process of writing EVERFOUND, I found myself stuck. “Writer’s Cliff.” The original direction I felt the story would take just wasn’t working. I still had the ending fairly worked out—I knew where the story was going from book one—but getting there was the problem.

As it was a story about ghosts, I decided to spend a few days aboard the Queen Mary — which is a huge old ocean liner that is permanently docked in Long Beach California, and is now a hotel. A haunted hotel. It’s filled with creepy passageways and deserted ball rooms. They even give “ghost tours.”

After a day and a half, I felt like pounding my head against the bulkhead. No ideas. Brain dead. The story wasn’t gelling, and I doubted my ability to tell it. I stayed up till midnight in my little windowless cabin, and passed out from exhaustion. Not a page had been written since I arrived. Or, more accurately, dozens of pages were written, but every single one of them was torn out, and tossed into the trash.
Then I woke up at about 3:30 AM. I was lying in the pitch dark of the cabin, and suddenly I saw the book playing in my head like a movie, so I figured, okay, I’ll watch this movie in my head and see where it takes me. Out of nowhere, all these ideas began to fill my brain. New directions for the story, new motivations for the characters, even new characters. In short, the story began to write itself in my head. I kept watching that mind-movie getting more and more excited. With less than four hours sleep, I got up, and began writing. I went on deck to watch the sun rise, and wrote all day until it started to get dark. I was thrilled with everything that I came up with, and the story was moving forward in leaps and bounds. I love those times when a flash of inspiration hits you, and you begin to write up a storm!   More on Wednesday.

Ever Lost-And-Found

May 11, 2010

I have a good reason for not blogging for the past few months. It’s called a deadline. Just last week I finished the first draft of Everfound. I’m thrilled with it, but I thought it might be worth sharing the love/hate relationship I have with my novels while I’m writing them. I think most authors can attest to the fact that writing a book is like giving birth. Alright it doesn’t hurt THAT much, but it’s a pretty exhausting, and painful process to push something forth from your brain, work it, rework it, obsess over it, spend sleepless nights, and write until your fingers and brain feels like they are going to fall off. Everfound was no exception.

I had a huge task before me with this book.  The completion of a trilogy is always very difficult. I experienced it first with SHATTERED SKY, which I consider to be one of the best books I’ve written–and closest to UNWIND in style.  With each book of a trilogy, new characters are added, and only a few characters leave the story, so by the time you get to the last book, not only do you have a story you have to tell, but A) you have dozens of characters to write about, B) You have to make the story bigger and better than the first two C) You have to resolve everyone’s story in a satisfying way. Throughout Everfound, the challenge was all consuming. With every book I write, I bite off as much as I can possibly chew, and barely stay above water (How’s that for a mixed metaphor).

The scope of Everlost is massive, and the journeys the characters make are epic — both the physical journeys, as well as the internal journeys. Plus there are two  new main character, and several new secondary characters. There’s the new character of JIX. Jix (which is Mayan for “jaguar”) is a skinjacker whose specialty is skinjacking great cats (furjacking). He is now just as important as Nick, Allie, Mikey, and Mary in the story. There’s also Clarence, a character who exists partway in Everlost, and partway out. There are new groups of kids our characters come across in Texas, Mexico, and other points of the globe. And there’s the return of a character we saw in EVERLOST, but not EVERWILD. (I won’t tell you who).

There are basically four separate story lines that need to converge. Allie and the train that has just crossed the Mississippi at the end of Everwild; the character of Jix; Mikey and Nick; and then what happens to Mary. As I was writing, the hardest thing to do was to bring the four storylines together, because the characters all wanted to do different things than I wanted them to do — but I have to go with the characters choices, not my own, otherwise it won’t feel true to those characters. That’s why the book took 465 pages to bring home! More on Friday.