Happy Birthday, Somewhere Only We Know!

Tomorrow is Somewhere Only We Know’s first birthday!

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I can’t believe that my book has already been out in the world for a whole year. I’m so proud of my debut novel and I love how it turned out. My family and friends helped me celebrate my book’s birthday last November with an incredible launch party. I’ll never forget how amazing that cake was with an edible image of my cover.

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This has been a really fun year being a published author. I love talking about my book and sharing its story of hope. I hope that the books I write going forward continue to inspire people as much as Somewhere Only We Know has.

Thank you all for sharing my publication journey with me. This is just the first of many years to come of being a published author, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

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Lastly, I am so excited to announce a little project I’ve been working on for fans of Somewhere Only We Know. Want to know what happens to Frankie, Susan, Lindsey, and Miranda after the book ends? Early 2018 be looking out for an epilogue, told from the perspective of the clearing in the forest where the girls meet.

Happy birthday, Somewhere Only We Know!

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My WIP Comp Titles

I apologize for not telling you guys very much about my work in progress (WIP). I’ve kept this story idea under wraps because it’s taking me forever to outline. About a year ago I wrote the first ten thousand words of this story, but, after a medical issue prevented me from reading a writing for several months, I realized the story didn’t work for a lot of reasons.

Part of it was that the story was so much bigger than I initially thought it was going to be, and part of it was because it was a dystopian and I hadn’t thought out all of the necessary details yet. I also just wasn’t ready to start writing the story yet. After I finished Somewhere Only We Know I had felt like I had to jump into something new, but that left me with a half-thought out story.

So now I’ve been taking my time with this idea, outlining it in detail and doing lots of research. Part of that research has been to read and watch all of the comp titles. A comp title is a relatively recent comparable book or movie, something similar to your story that you can use as a starting point to pitch your book and help put it into context for agents, publishers, and readers. So I thought I’d give you guys a taste of my WIP by telling you about all of the comp titles I researched for this project:

  • The Hunger Games Books and Movies
    I chose to watch the Hunger Games movies again because one of my protagonists reminds me of Katniss. Plus I realized my book was also going to be trilogy, so I wanted to watch how the Hunger Games story played out over three books. I had only ever read the first book in the series before, so I loved getting the chance to finally read the whole series.
  • Metaltown by Kristen Simmons
    I chose to read this book because one of her main characters, Lena, reminds me of my other protagonist. Also, this story was inspired by Les Mis, which influences pretty much everything I write.
  • The Selection Series by Kiera Cass
    The Selection Series are some of my favorite books, and I wanted to read them again to help me understand trilogy structure. It was helpful to study a story that I already knew well.
  • Legend by Marie Lu
    Another story inspired by Les Mis, Legend was a helpful and inspiring reread. My second protagonist is very perceptive, like June in Legend. And Lu also has two protagonists, so it was helpful to read this and see how she used both of them.
  • The Reader by Traci Chee
    This one is a fantasy, not a dystopian like the rest of the stories on this list, but it is about a world without a written language, a concept which will play into my WIP.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    This book is a classic, not really a comp title, but the concept of censorship will also play into my WIP.
  • City of Ember
    I haven’t actually read the book City of Ember, but I have always loved this movie for some reason. You’ll see messengers like Lina pop up in my WIP. But the main reason I wanted to watch this movie again was because of that small moment when Lina is coloring a picture of a row of houses. She looks up from the drawing and out the window at the dark alley in her underground city, and then she picks up a blue crayon and colors the sky blue even though she’s never seen the actual sky and doesn’t know what color it really is. This moment has stuck with me ever since I first saw this movie nine years ago, and it was the initial inspiration for my first protagonist.

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I hope that gives you an idea of what kind of story I’ve been working on. I’ll let you know more soon!

Behind the Scenes of Somewhere Only We Know: My Interview with GenZ Publishing

I recently got the chance to do an awesome interview with my publisher, GenZ Publishing, and they just put it up on their website.

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If you’d like to get another behind the scenes look at my debut novel, check it out! I talk about everything from my writing process and my favorite authors to Somewhere Only We Know‘s capitalization and my Hope Bracelets. You can find the interview here. I hope you like it!

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Inspiration from My Favorite Movies

Writers can find inspiration from anything: books, nature, the people around you. Anything and everything that catches your eye can become a story. One of my favorite sources of inspiration is of course movies. I have trouble sitting down long enough to watch a whole movie and usually spread it out over a couple of days, but I still love the amazing stories that only movies can convey. These are some of my favorite movies and how they inspire my writing:

The Harry Potter Series
I’ll be honest—I’ve only read the books once over many years. Like I have trouble sitting down for a movie I also have trouble reading books longer than 300 pages. But I love how these movies bring this incredible world to life. The Harry Potter series inspires me with its expansive and complex world. Though I don’t plan on writing any fantasy, I love the world building aspects of these movies.

The Chronicles of Narnia
This is another fantasy series that inspires me with its world building, but I’m more inspired with the spiritual references. The symbolism and connection to Christianity that infuses this story makes me want to do the same in my own writing.

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games series is an action-packed dystopia, full of rebellion and satire on reality television, and it has had a huge influence on my writing. While I’ve been a fan of these movies since they came out (and even dragged a friend to see the midnight release of the first one), I did not like the books when I first read them. My book club in high school read the first novel and I didn’t like it very much, and then gave up on the others. I didn’t actually read the whole series until this summer, and am reading Mockingjay right now. I just feel like this series and the essence of the story is so much better conveyed on screen than on the page.

Moana
Disney’s most recent princess (daughter of the village chief) inspires me with how strong she is. One of my main goals with my writing is to create strong female characters that girls can look up to, and Moana does just that. Plus the story is so fun and this movie has some of Disney’s best music.

Inside Out
Inside Out is by far my favorite Pixar movie. Not only is it a great story about emotions and memories, it takes you inside the mind of the main character and personifies the emotions that are hard to talk about in concrete ways. As a writer I found this movie so interesting with this look into someone’s mind.

Ever After
I love this film’s take on the story of Cinderella. Changing up fairy tales is something I enjoy doing, and I have always been inspired by fairy tales. I love how this movie makes Cinderella independent and strong.

Les Misérables
I’ve talked multiple times about how amazing this story is, so I won’t go on again. Check out these links if you want to know more: Getting Re-inspired by Les Misérables and Favorite Book Feature: A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher.

The Truman Show
This is definitely one of my favorite movies. I love how this film looks at reality television, perceptions of reality, and questions of identity. Jim Carrey does an amazing job portraying Truman’s story. This movie inspired one of the very first stories I created, and it continues to have an influence on my work.

Movie Souvenirs
Some books about and souvenirs from some of my favorite movies.

As Cheryl St.John says in her book Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict, watching a movie counts as work as long as you’re taking notes. Movies can have a huge impact on your writing, so try watching all kinds of films to find inspiration. I also love finding inspiration from television shows, with some of my favorites being Once Upon a Time, Jericho, Dollhouse, Firefly, Pushing Daisies, and Battlestar Galactica.

Behind the Scenes of Somewhere Only We Know: Fun Facts

Here are some fun facts about the making of my debut novel, Somewhere Only We Know:

  • I usually refer to my books by their acronyms, both when taking notes and when talking about them with my husband. Somewhere Only We Know—which was a long title to begin with—became SOWK, which I pronounce “soak.”
  • The book was in the back of my mind for about five years before I ever tried to write it.
  • Once I actually started writing the book, I wrote it in only three months.
  • Because I have trouble remembering faces, I always have trouble creating what characters look like. I usually cast actors as my characters when I’m writing to help me picture them, but I never did that with SOWK. I never really saw the girls’ faces in my head.
  • I knew Somewhere Only We Know would be the title of the story as soon as I had the nightmare that prompted the idea back in high school. I had just discovered the song “Somewhere Only We Know” and my gut was telling me it was perfect, but I never realized just how well it would fit into the story until I started writing it five or so years later.
  • The notebook that contains all of my notes pertaining to Somewhere Only We Know has bright and colorful flowers on the cover. Even though it is a dark story, I wanted to focus on the hope. However, I made all of my section headings a dark, scratchy print.
  • I signed with my publisher when the book was only about a third complete at 20,000 words.
  • I got the email that GenZ Publishing wanted to sign with me while sitting in the food court at the mall on my lunch break. I was probably eating a Lunchable and was definitely crying.

My Blog Turns 1!

Today is my blog’s first anniversary!

On May 31st of last year, I published my first post about reading the Selection series and how meeting Kiera Cass helped me to finally write and publish my first novel.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like blogging. Writers learn to write in other’s voices. We write as our characters and we tell their stories. It was an interesting experience to start writing as myself and to tell my own story. I’m really happy with how my blog and website have evolved over the last year, and I really enjoy posting about my writing, books I’m reading, and anything else that affects my life as a writer.

To celebrate my blog’s anniversary, I wanted to look back on some of my favorite posts from the past year. Help me celebrate and check out some of my old posts!

Behind the Scenes of Somewhere Only We Know: Writing a New Story: This post explains what I want readers to take away from my novel, which is of course the most important part of writing the book in the first place.

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World Changers: In this one I explain my calling to be a writer and how I want to use writing to do what I can to make a difference.

Top 10 Reasons I Love My Husband: In honor of Valentine’s Day, I created this list of all the reasons I love my husband.

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Being a “Real” Writer: In this post I reflect on making writing my job and give my view on what makes someone a real writer.

Why I Love Engage City Church: In this one I brag about how awesome my church is.

Why Write?: Here I talk about an important lesson I learned back in college-that everyone has something important to say.

Reading Your Own Writing: When I read through my novel for the first time after it’s publication, I had both a negative and positive feeling about it. Here I write about trying to focus on the positive.

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Molly and me reading together

Finding Motivation: In this post I talk about having the right mindset to write and how I created a reward system to keep myself motivated.

Somewhere Only We Know Launch Party: Here I have pictures from and talk about my book launch party.

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Getting Re-inspired by Les Misérables: Lastly, in this post I talk about finding inspiration from my favorite story ever.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog over the last year, and I hope you continue to join me on my writing journey by reading my blog for the years to come!

5 Writing Tools I Can’t Live Without

Writing is a craft, and you can’t be any good at a craft without the right tools. These are the five tools I can’t live without.

Scrivener
I don’t know why I waited so long to get Scrivener. I had heard so many good things about it, and three months ago I finally bought this amazing software. Seriously, Microsoft Word is nothing compared to this. I love being able to keep all of my writing, research, outlining, and notes in the same place. And I love being able to jump around to work on different parts of what I’m writing, or to switch quickly between writing and outlining. Or even to work on both at the same time.

There was definitely a learning curve to get used to Scrivener. I spent several weeks going through the demo multiple times and reading the handbook. I’m sure there are still many things I need to learn, but for now I’ve got the hang of it. I highly recommend this software to any writer.

Planners
I never get anything done unless I have it written on a To Do List. I tend to be forgetful and have a lot of things running around in my head at once. At the start of each week I have to plan out everything that needs to get done so that I can stay organized and can accomplish what I need to. I have my weekly list of writing tasks, a social media planner, daily writing task lists, and my personal planner. I don’t know what I’d do without all of them.

Colored Pens
I love being as organized as possible, and color coding is a big part of that. I have my set of colored pens that I use for just about everything. Ink Joy pens are my favorite because the colors are bright and they’re easy to write with. Each story I work on has its own color that I use to make edits on paper copies, and I color code in all of my planners as well.

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Textbooks

I keep most of my writing textbooks on my desk so that they’re right in front of me and I can draw from them for help or inspiration. I have everything from a book on outlining to a book on language creation for science fiction to a baby name book. Some are from college, some I’ve read after college, and others I haven’t gotten to yet. But ever since graduating from college I’ve realized how important it is to continue my writing education, so I try to read from one of these textbooks every day. The craft of writing requires constant learning and fine-tuning in order to do it well.

K-Love

This last one is probably the most important. Writing is my calling, and I want to make sure that God is with me whenever I’m doing what he’s called me to do. So I have Christian radio play in the background all of the time when I’m writing. My favorite station is K-Love. Not only do I get to hear some of my favorite music and artists while I’m working, I get that constant reminder that God is with me and that I’m loved. This music has a way of pushing God’s promises, word, and love into your heart and mind, even if it’s just on in the background. I don’t think I’d be able to do the difficult task of writing every day if I wasn’t constantly listening to these good messages.