Tag Archives: The Inbetween

when we collide

My characters and I live in vastly different worlds.

My biggest problems are tests and papers and boys. I play volleyball at the beach, do homework in coffee shops, laugh with my friends until way too late.

“Wouldn’t that be nice?” my characters say.

They fight bad guys. They have secrets. They argue and push buttons and get in trouble. Although they struggle with the basic issues of humanity, just like I do, it’s on a completely different scale. Sometimes I’m jealous of them, sometimes they’re jealous of me, but mostly we’re just really different.

However.

Sometimes I do feel like our worlds collide.

For example, when I see black trucks like these on the road, I feel like Ian (a main character from TIB) is inside — listening to rap and generally being a hot bad boy. So I love black trucks. They make me swoon.

Pianos, piano music, and concert halls remind me of Luke (also from TIB). Sophie’s little brother, he’s a master piano player who lives, breathes, and thinks music. I love listening to (and playing) piano music because no matter how annoying Luke can be, in all his little-brother-ness, he becomes something much bigger when he plays.

And lastly, if I ran, I would probably feel closer to Sophie (TIB’s main character), but I don’t run.

What kinds of things make you feel closer to your characters — like your world and theirs could collide?

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A survey!

It’s lovely and sunny outside, and I have about five million things to do since I didn’t touch a single stack of homework over the holiday weekend. Sounds like a perfect time to ramble through this survey, which the lovely Kristin Otts tagged me to complete. If I don’t get anything done, I blame her 🙂 although I do love surveys so much more than homework. Thanks, Kristin!

1) What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?

THE INBETWEEN was the last thing I completed, but if you want a more technical answer, the last thing I wrote was  about 2,000 words of FELL last night.

The first things I wrote were stories from first and second grade. Those two years, I had two lovely teachers, Ms. Mathis and Ms. Shields, who loved to write and loved to encourage their students to write. I wrote all sorts of stories about my cat Whimsey, and my family’s vacations, and horses (I was obsessed with horses). They’re all laminated and bound and certified by the words “Room 5/6 Publishing”… and in bookcases back home.

2) Write poetry?

Once upon a time, when I was an angsty high school student…

3) Angsty poetry?

Oh yes. Who hasn’t written angsty poetry? (If only for the sole purpose of later laughter…)

4) Favorite genre of writing?

I love mysteries. Love, love, love.

5) Most annoying character you’ve ever created?

Possibly this guy named Tad, who appeared in THE THRILL SEEKERS as a nerdy, annoying (ANNOYING!) and unwanted sidekick for the main characters.

6) Best plot you’ve ever created?

I suppose TIB…

7) Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?

If I told you, it would no longer be a twist.

8 ) How often do you get writer’s block?

I don’t think I believe in writer’s block — yes, I am one of those people. I don’t know what I believe, because sometimes my stories stop short, but I think that’s because of the internet and/or my own distracting life…

9) Write fan fiction?

Never.

10) Do you type or write by hand?

Type.

I can’t write fast enough to keep up with my thoughts; plus I’m one of those neat-freak people who has to make everything they hand-write, including lecture notes, look PERFECT. Too much pressure… so I revert to the computer, where all typed letters look perfect without effort.

11) Do you save everything you write?

Yes, even scribbled things on sticky notes. Check out my closet back home — it houses a *neat* stack of papers from as far back as the first novel I wrote.

12) Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?

I incorporate abandoned ideas into new ideas, but no, I’ve never completely gone back to an abandoned idea.

13) What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

THE INBETWEEN.

14) What’s everyone else’s favorite story you’ve written?

Same.

15) Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

TIB could classify as both…

16) What’s your favorite setting for your characters?

Morrow, the setting of TIB, is misty and woodsy and beachy — and (I think) quite creepy. It used to be my favorite until FELL came along. Now I love the Seattle of that world … full of traffic, sirens, and rainy nights and streetlights.

17) How many writing projects are you working on right now?

Only one — FELL.

18) Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Well… no.

OH just kidding, I totally did. I won the Creative Writing award my senior year of high school, and I will always remember what my teacher said as she presented the award: that I had “delicate genius”. I’ve never been quite sure what that meant, but I think it sounds cool.

19) What are your five favorite words?

Rain, tumble, green, squish, love.

20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?

I think Chloe, Sophie’s sidekick and sometimes-best-friend from TIB, sounds the most like me, although we don’t share too many personal similarities. I guess I’d have to say Birch from FELL if only because she and I share the whole fire-nightmare connection.

21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?

People around me.

(Yes, people around me, be afraid — but not too afraid, because you’ll only end up as a minor character with a changed name and changed hair color. Major characters just ARE the way they are.)

22) Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Not usually. Most of the time I write based on reality — TIB has a few little conversations/interactions that my friends see and go, “hey, didn’t that happen to us?”

But FELL will have several of my fire nightmares.

23) Do you favor happy endings?

I’m not sure how to answer this question. I favor them in books I read, but not necessarily books I write. Books I write must end the right way (the way that grows, changes, and challenges its characters), and that is not always the happy way.

24) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Yes, especially when my mistakes are underlined with red and green squiggles. I can’t stand red and green squiggles.

25) Does music help you write?

Sometimes. I have playlists for TIB and FELL (although FELL’s only has one song so far). But I like quiet, too — the kind in coffee shops, not libraries.

26) Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops in your head.

I see him again on the northbound 17 express: Rush hour traffic and nowhere to sit, rain spattering the windshield, and that boy standing in the aisle ahead of me, pretending to read Steinbeck like yesterday but never actually flipping the page.

And it scares me. The day before yesterday, he was just another passenger. Yesterday he was cute, and once I stared back when I caught him looking, fluttered my eyelashes and smiled like a fool. Today, he is terrifying. I don’t know why.

~ from FELL

Well, that was fun. Time to write a paper or two. I tag Laurie.

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Love at First Sight Blogfest

Happy Valentines Day! In honor of the day, the Love at First Sight Blogfest is celebrating those (to quote Courtney Reese), “steamy, sometimes awkward, first-meetings, the ones where your two characters meet for the first time. Or, if your characters didn’t have a love-at-first-sight kind of relationship (because mine sure didn’t!), the scene where they realized, “wow, I think I love this person”.” And I just love romance, especially on Valentine’s Day, so I couldn’t resist joining the party.

In THE INBETWEEN, Sophie and Ian don’t exactly fall in love at first sight. But this scene, in which Ian fixes Sophie’s flat tire, marks the beginning of flying sparks…

Ian shrugs off his jacket. He’s wearing a black button-up shirt and jeans that look designer. And I think I can see his abs through the shirt.

“Do you have a hot date tonight?” I ask, still staring. He tosses his jacket onto my car with the smirkiest smile.

“I plead the fifth.”

“What?”

“I like making you wonder about me.” As he passes by, cologne touches the air. My nose twitches. Smells delicious: mint and old spice and the outdoors.

“Are you trying to impress me?” I ask.

“Do you think mysterious men are attractive?”

“Attractive and impressive mean different things.”

“The question stands,” he says.

“So does mine.”

He sticks his tongue out one side of his mouth as he positions the jack behind the tire. “I’ll answer if you do.”

“Okay.Are you trying to impress me?”

When he looks up at me, his eyes sweep over my hair and my shirt. He wipes the back of his hand across his forehead. “If I was trying to impress you, you’d be melting.”

I hope I’m not blushing too much. “Try.”

“Oh, I will.” It’s so low I can hardly hear it, but his grin gives him away. I suck in a breath. Um… With a few flicks of his wrist, he raises the car with the jack. “Your turn.”

“Yes, I think you’re attractive.” The words slip out with a boldness that leaves me breathless. But he’s quiet as he keeps raising the car. “You could…say something.”

So he says, “Thank you for the compliment.” I know he’s teasing me because laughter spices his voice and he can’t seem to concentrate hard enough to loosen one of the lug nuts. “Tell me about yourself,” he says after a minute, half out of breath.

I duck my head, smiling. “But I like making you wonder about me.”

“You’re evading my question.”

“You’re being persistent.”

The lug nut plinks into the gravel. “Maybe I’m interested in you,” he says.

“You’re not.”

“Really?”

I shift my feet. “We don’t like each other.”

“Do we?”

“You’re definitely not interested in me,” I say, coiling a strand of hair around my finger.

“I’m not?”

I pause for a minute. If he’s not uninterested in me, that means — “Do you think I’m attractive?” I ask.

Ian’s breath huffs out as he lifts the spare into position. “You play dirty.”

“You’re evading my question.”

He laughs. Then he leans over to adjust the tire. When he finally answers he says it quietly, with an almost-shyness that makes me blush. “Yeah.”

My head turns into a balloon and floats away. For once, I can’t think of a single thing to say until my cell phone rings. The balloon pops. The moment pops. Ian picks up the wrench and goes back to work. I desperately wish I could think of something to say to him, like thank you or does that mean you might ask me out, but all I can say is, “Hello?”

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TIB Newsflash

You know those mornings when you wake up kind of confused, mostly sleepy, and really sad about going to class, work, or anywhere else that isn’t bed?

That was Thursday morning. Until…

I opened up my email and bam the whole day changed. My awesome agent had delightful news: THE INBETWEEN was officially. out. on. submission. with a stunning list of editors that made my stomach flip-flop.

Happy dance!

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Was Juliet right?

We all know the quote:

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about names. I choose character names with everything from obsessive care to spur-of-the-moment inspiration. But no matter how the name comes to me, the right one always has this feel. This spark. This aha! perfect!

But…how much of a character is in their name? How much does a name define a character? If Edward had been named Jack or Collin or Evan, would he be the sizzling Cullen boy we know today?

Cutting to the point, I had to change one of my character’s names last week. Well, not just any one of my characters: my lovely favorite hero, the green-eyed quarterback of the query, Esmund Morrow. This was a big change. But it says a lot about names.

Names have feels. Jack is a hardcore name with punch. One syllable: Jack. Elizabeth is an upper-class sounding name that makes me think of princesses and England. Esmund is an old-fashioned name that just so happens to fit my character perfectly. To quote people who have read the book, it’s “hot, manly, and mysterious” just like he is.

Names have history. So this is self-explanatory. If you wanted to name your Byronic hero Heathcliff, that would be a no-no. Unless it’s satire or something, but that’s a whole other story. Same with naming your vampire Edward Cullen. It’s been done before, so just — don’t.

The thing is, most every name has history. Emilia and I were moaning about this last week over email: most every name has been used before and sometimes their histories and connotations go so far as to redefine them. Take Edward for example.

Why do I keep bringing up Edward Cullen? Just say Esmund and Edward and Esmund and Edward about twenty times fast, and I think you’ll see. I’ve known all along that Esmund sounds similar to Edward. It didn’t matter much to me because Esmund existed (to me) long before I read Twilight, but we live in a post-Twilight world. Even though I was sad when my agent very gently and very sadly brought this up, I do understand. We both mourned for a while — then realized that this is best.

So he is renamed. And last week, as I read through the new manuscript, all weird-feeling because Esmund was *gone*, I wondered if he really was gone. Has renaming him completely changed his character? Does Esmund’s character smell just as sweet (or hot, manly, and mysterious)?

I’ve come to my own conclusions, but first I thought I’d ask you guys. Do we put to much weight on names? Would your characters “retain that dear perfection” with different names? Or do names mean everything?

My conclusion: names do mean a lot. I mean, I could not have renamed Esmund Bill. No way. But Esmund isn’t defined by his name. There’s more to him than that two-syllable conglomeration of letters that unfortunately sounds too much like another. His hotness and manliness and mysteriousness stem from something deeper. And luckily, Ian captures them just fine, too. Maybe better.

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Status: revisions

This was my life yesterday:

Morning until 2:30: Coffee shop and Pike Place Market with the family. Gingersnap lattes, cold and sunny Seattle, chatty vendors, fishy smells, street musicians and fresh-fruit samples. Yum.

2:30-6:30: Parked on the couch with the Christmas tree lights on. Typing up revisions from the official print-out and reading through TIB from the beginning. Pumped up about the results!

6:30-7:00: Brain food for dinner — chicken tikki masala and salad with fresh avocados.

7:00-7:30: Revising. Back starting to ache. Pushing through. A little over halfway through the book. Still jazzed about EvErYtHiNg!

7:30-8:00: Drive to the local indie video store to get Julie and Julia for a movie break with mom and sis. Apparently the rest of Seattle had same plan — no copies left in this or other store.

8:00-9:00: Back to revising. New spot in the kitchen with a mug of Lady Gray tea. Guitar music.

9:00-10:00: Speed Scrabble tournament with family. (Speed Scrabble is Scrabble without the board — everyone makes their own little word-puzzles; it’s much harder and much more fun). I win almost every game; I am a champ.

10:00-10:30: Facebook, AW, brushing teeth.

10:30: Curl up in bed with Christmas lights around my window. Computer on the bed, print-out in my lap. Goal: finish reading through the rest of TIB to get a feeling for the entire book. Question: does the new-ish ending work?

12:00: Stretch break.

12:02-1:44: Glued to the book. Creeped out by the ending. Too dark outside! House is too quiet! Teary for the first time ever — because the ending is sad or because I am past exhausted?

1:45: Bed.

So now this round of revisions will be basically done after a few more touch-ups. Hurray! Time to breathe, sleep, and read books… and blog again!

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gra-ti-tude

So Thanksgiving is over (and I probably won’t be hungry until Christmas) but this thing called “thanksgiving”, no caps, is a year-around event. Kristin Briana Otts tagged me: rules: list ten things you are thankful for, five of which must be writing-related.

1. Home: I’m sitting on my kitchen floor right now (favorite room in the house: sunny and Italian and warm) — ignoring all the dirty dishes in the sink from family homemade pizza night, listening to my dad and uncle talk technology, watching a pie crust brown in the oven, groovin’ to Dave Brubeck — after a random day of shopping with the family (my dad never shops, not ever; but basically bought out Eddie Bauer today; it was great). I love being here. We laugh a lot and talk about random things and cook — and it fills me up inside.

2. Family: Okay, I know this is kind of like #1, but I am very thankful for my family. They’re really cool (I’m going to brag for a second): my dad is building a boat, my mom is on the board of a nonprofit org called Sister Connection (which helps widows in Burundi, Africa), my sister is next-year’s cross country team captain, and my dog is the smartest dog in the world. We’re a very funny family, too.

3. College: I liked freshman year. It was fun and weird. But sophomore year is light-years better. I am in love with it. In love with my friends, my dorm, (most of) my classes, loooong funny dinners in the cafeteria, v-ball at the beach, spontaneous trips for frozen yogurt…

4. Friends: There’s this old song — “make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other’s gold” — that we sang in preschool. And it’s in my head a lot because I have a lot of new friends and a lot of old, and I’m grateful for them all. Old friends have seen me grow from awkward junior-higher to less awkward high-school senior. We’ve gone through tons together and I’m grateful that we can still hang out over breaks. New friends have stuck with me through rocky, homesick lows and sunny, hilarious highs — and this year especially we’ve become very tight.

5. Seattle: Big city in the rain. Soggy leaves in the street. Pink and purple clouds at sunset when the sky clears for half a second to show off the Sound and the skyline in evening sunshine.

6. My first book: It was crap (no, literally, it was) — but it’s what sparked this whole crazy obsession. I’m thankful that I began something without a plan and without any idea of what it would turn into — because it’s led me here.

7. The Inbetween: This book won’t let me get away (believe me, I have tried) because something about it wants to be heard. I mean, really really wants to be heard. And I’m thankful for this year-and-a-half journey of learning about Sophie and Esmund, about plot structure and style, about persevering…

8. My agent: This is a big one. I remember one of my friends asked me, back in September, what I was looking forward to this year. First thing I said was the big a-g-e-n-t, and although I had no idea if it would really happen, I wanted it bad. And it happened! I’m thankful that Joan saw my query, thankful that she fell hard for my book, thankful that she sees ways to make it better, thankful that all those ways fit with and enhance my vision, and thankful that one of the first things she mentioned was the sequel…

9. Support: Family and friends who are 100% supportive of this adventure — who cheer me on and push me to new levels. I’m truly grateful.

10. Absolute Write: I learned everything from that place… a.k.a. I would have no query letter or agent or plain hope without all that advice, critique, and help.

Tagged: Anna, Jenn, Kristina

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