Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Well. That was... unexpected."

Apologies for the long lapse between posts.

The Celtic Thunder concert, as expected, was amazing (special props to the hilarious interplay between new member thirteen-year-old Daniel and returning member Keith on You've Got a Friend in Me and Ryan's fantastic rendition of Friends in Low Places). The family visit afterwards was...

I showed my mother my current draft of The Highwayman's Apprentice. At first, she was intrigued, though there were points she did not understand. As she went along, she said that the story felt too crowded and I needed to focus more. Then, last night, the family sat down to watch Storm.

This morning, my mother and I had a talk.

Since I am sure you have all had variants of this talk with your own families, I will spare you the details. Suffice to say, my mother now feels that THA lacks originality and interest. She characterized it as a "transcription" of Storm and said that she saw nothing of me in it.

Storm, though a great deal of fun, is a sixty-minute musical revue. The plot is somewhat melodramatic and far-fetched. The characters are cliches, drawn larger than life to give the songs more emotional punch. They do not even have names, being known simply by their function within the story.

From it, I have evolved, or I am trying to evolve, a cast of characters who are real people, with names and wishes and decisions both made and yet to make. I am, or was, delighting in what might be happening that we never see, before, around, and after the documented action on the DVD.

Apparently my current work on THA, and the synopsis of the rest of the story the way I had planned it, did not convey this to my mother. She said that it will never come to anything worthwhile, and she strongly recommended that I abandon it immediately.

In her infinite wisdom, my mother would also like me to abandon the Legendbreakers universe, as she sees no central theme or unifying point in that either, and feels that I am simply pandering to people's emotional desires by pitting the evil Reality Cops against the good Legendbreakers.

Very shortly after these two modest requests, she lovingly pointed out to me that I seem to have trouble finishing things. Good heavens, I wonder why. I also wonder why I might have packed up my things, and my cats, and left my family's house six hours before I originally intended to go.

I do not plan to stop answering the phone to my mother, or to no longer go and visit her, or anything equally melodramatic. She wants what's best for me, and she did help me today, by pointing out some problems with the current draft of THA, though it can still stand as backstory.

Which it will.

The response to the teasers and ideas I have tossed out has been very positive. These characters have a firm hold on my mind and if I have not written them well enough to make them clear and distinct without too much cliche or stereotype, well, then, I'll just have to try again.

What do you think of three short, interlinked books, each covering the same period of time but telling the story of a different place and a different couple, or two, and then a fourth to tell the end of all the stories at once?

The first one I have in mind would be called The Widow in Waiting, and if you read the teaser a few posts back, it tells the story of Grainne's brother Sean and his dark-haired lady. The others do not yet have names, except for the last, which is still The Highwayman's Apprentice.

There will be magic. There will be bright colors and loud noises, and feats of derring-do. There will be young love and middle-aged love and family love (it wouldn't be an Anne story without families, would it?). And yes, there will be highwaymen, and gypsies, though less in the first book than in the others.

Still interested? Because in the end, my readers, my friends, it is you who make the decisions. It is you who decide if a story is or isn't worth my time, because it is you, and only you, who can tell me if you will or won't read it.

Please, please let me know. This has been a hard day for me and some support from you, if it's warranted by what you see in this post, would make all the difference in the world.


  1. Definitely, definitely interested. No question about that.

  2. I do not think you should abandon either of your works. They're both amazing ideas, and if you work on them, then they're going to have you in them.
    I like the idea of four books about the same period of time. Having different perspectives is always fun to read, because in real life you only get to know for sure one person's opinion. It's cool to know what the other people are thinking too. Plus that gives you more options on how to evolve the characters more.
    I don't quite understand what she means by crowded... did she mean too many people?
    Because in DV you've got 12 full time main characters and so many more supporting characters that have all been evolved correctly with great 3-dimensional personalities, so I'm not quite understanding that.

    You shouldn't abandon it just because your mom said so. Yeah, she's your mom and you should take what she said as criticism sure. But it's what you want to do, and if you've been motivated to write so much of it, than it's important to you so you should see it through to the end. Some of the best stories are abandoned half way through, and LegendBreakers has the potential to be one of the best stories out there.

    I think you have amazing talent and you should never give up on something that you love writing about. If your characters speak to you and want their stories told, than your job as a writer is to write those stories.

    Good luck continuing these stories! I'll still be a fan no matter what you're writing.

  3. Do we share a mother? Because I’m beginning to wonder. We often have those talks.

    Having not read THA or seen Celtic Thunder concerts I don’t know if the story you are writing is a transcription of that or not. But having read your other stories I lean toward not really. Taking a situation and using it for inspiration is what storytellers do. And that’s what you are.

    Having said that, I think narrowing down what your mother is saying really would be more helpful to you. The story seems crowded, okay where and how? Also remember that you are throwing words down on a page and have written most of a novel in what? three weeks? Less even? You haven’t had time to go back to read and pace and move things around. Nora Roberts said when she’s writing she makes three drafts, the first is a bare bones story that ends up about 100 pages, the second fixes pacing, fills in backstory and the third is for grammar, syntax, fact checking. That’s how she works, so how do you work? Do you do better to get all the ideas out on paper and then tweak? I can’t write because I have to make each line perfect before I commit it to paper, so I never get anything done. The only stories I ever completed were the ones that simply flew from my brain to my fingers without stopping...and they were pretty short. Just because she’s seen Celtic Thunder and feels that THA is following it, doesn’t mean another reader would. They might think your inspiration was Lorena McKinnits “The Highwayman” or The Highwayman (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson et al) song of the same name. Or any other of a thousand things.

    As for Legendbreakers...let me start with this. Do you plan on writing to an “adult” audience? Because the tone of the stories I’ve read from you will probably put you into the kid fiction territory. This isn’t a bad thing, but after working in a bookstore for several years, I’ve seen what sells within groups. With little violence and little to no sex your not going to be marketed to an adult audience. But neither was JKR :) You might get teen, but that market is currently glutted with vampires, zombies and witches. So it might be tougher to get someone to look at you. So with Legendbreakers does it matter if your “pandering to peoples emotional desires” or not? Well if your doing kid fic, I’m going to lean toward no, simple is good. Hell you could write a Goosebumps length series using that type setup.

    Dangerverse is the last HP fanfic I read. Some of them have been abandoned, and partly I grew away from the fandom after a personal bad HP experience. Part of that is I don’t really consider it fan-fic anymore. The characters have a glimpse of what they were in canon but have grown as to be pretty unrecognizable. I’ve read and re-read the stories, I carry them on my phone and my Nook and I tell everyone that mentions Harry Potter about them. Are they perfect? No, there’s some Mary Sue in the first couple and some turns of phrase that make my hair curl when I read it, but the difference between LWD and FD are stunning.

    Parents know us the best and the least all at once. And nobody can hurt you like family, especially when its for your “own good”. All I can advise is take a breath, have some ice cream and a good cry or a hot bath and a good cry, and get back to what you love. And don’t let your mom beta for you :)

  4. Well it's seems that everyone has beat me to telling you great advice but here's my 2 cents...

    you're not your mum, and your mum is not you... you are free to make your own decisions... and also unless there's something you havnt told us as far as im aware your mum isn't an expert on the subject matter... judging by you as the daughter she raised i could take a guess by saying she might also like books and musicals but i don't think she's a successful author herself...

    what im trying to say is even though im sure she is an amazing person but her opinion isn't the only one in the world... judging by your descriptions and writing that i've read in the past of dangerverse ledgendbreakers and anything else in my opinion you are a very good writer with a future in this industry...

    so yes listen to your mother's advice but remember in the end she could hate what you've written but it could be the best selling book of all time... and also remember that what she has read is not the finished product... it's just a draft something you can change or develop in different ways...

    i do like the sound of the four stories but dont just do it because of what your mum said do it because you think thats how the story should play out...

    so before you go do anything major take a step back and look at the story as a whole... maybe try reading it as if you've never heard of the story before...

    i hope that helps... and that it wasn't too random sounding...

  5. Of course I am interested, oh PAGE. :) Write on!
    I have just one question/suggestion about THA. Will there be a sword fight in an epic location (on top of a bell tower in a thunderstorm for example)?

  6. Please, please, please, do not let your mother's opinions sway you. Your writing is brilliant, your characterizations and family portrayal are beautifully (and sometimes painfully) real, and your ideas, while stemming from other works, are always original and fresh. I have never, ever thought of accusing you of unoriginality. I have read published books with less wit and originality than your fanfiction.

    In the end, really, it's about how you feel, how the writing shapes in your mind and the page before you. Remain true to your own heart and vision.