Monday, February 11, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I've been tagged by Alexis Bass to take part in the Next Big Thing blog hop!

Some of you may remember that I already participated in this blog hop back in September, when I was tagged by Caitlin Lane. At that time, however, my book was out on sub, and so out of caution I wrote a very vague post about an MG fantasy idea I was mulling. Yeah, sorry 'bout that. But now that my title and pitch is out in the world, I think I can share a few details!

What is the working title of your book?

My book is being published under the title THE LOST PLANET, but it's gone through a series of working titles. I wrote the first draft under the title FAIRWEATHER, which means absolutely nothing, and when I started querying I was calling it FULCRUM, which has meaning, but is also a terrible title for a children's book. Title-writing, not my forte...

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I've been asked this question before, and I wish I had a pithy answer, but the honest truth is: This book is the product of much, much revision. The only real idea I had going into it was that I wanted to write an epic space adventure for kids, and the story grew organically over a long time. My original goal was more like a set of technical specifications: I wanted it to fast-paced and cliffhangery, I wanted it to have a rich backstory that emerges gradually in tiny reveals, I wanted it have depth and some degree of subtle moral reflection, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, and I cannot stress this enough, I wanted it to be a FUN read--I wanted it to be a sci-fi book that would be enjoyable for people who claim to not like sci-fi.

What genre does your book fall under?

It dances a fine line right between MG and YA, so I'm going to call it upper MG science fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My preference is for actors who act, and not actors who are celebrities that moonlight in acting.

HOWEVER, and I can't believe I'm telling you this because it's totally embarrassing, but when I was drafting back in the day and I got stuck at one point, I made this awesome photo collage of very famous actors to help me "envision my characters" (i.e. procrastinate), and so I will share it, cheeks aflame. The few of you out there who've read my book will find this hilarious, I'm sure. As this was made during my first draft, at least three of these characters have either been cut or changed species.

My characters, circa 2010. Oh, the silly things we do on that first draft.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I'll use an adapted version of the PM announcement: After 13-year-old Chase wakes up with no memory of who he is or how he received a terrible wound to the head, he and two unlikely allies are hunted through the galaxy while trying to discover the truth about his past.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am extremely fortunate to be represented by the brilliant Joanna Volpe, and my book is being published by the wonderful people at Feiwel and Friends.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first time I took a stab at this story, the only thing it had in common with the final version is the names of the three main characters. I wrote about thirty pages and torched it. On a business trip in 2008,  I had a little breakthrough moment on how I could make the story work, but I guess I wasn't in much of a rush because by the end of 2009, I only had about 30,000 words down. And most of these were scenes that would later be cut.

I don't know why I couldn't get serious about writing. Well, no, I do. It's hard. It's easier to go to the gym and go to the movies and hang out with friends and do just about anything else. I wanted to write the book, I wanted to finish, but I didn't know where it was going or how to get there. And then sometime in December 2009, I got sick and spent a day on the sofa reading Stephen King's On Writing, and that made me think, Well I can write 1,000 words a day, can't I? So that became my New Year's resolution, and it came with the happy timing of my husband's being out in Cape Canaveral to build a rocket for months on end. I set goals for myself and logged my daily word count in Google Calendar, and as you can see below, I finished on April 28, 2010. You will also see that I missed my completion date by about a month, and that my goal was to write a 100,000-word book. Oh, the things I've learned since then...

Started at 33,274 words! Of garbage!
Finished at 94,795! Time to kill some darlings!
What other books would you compare this to within your genre?

Um, I don't know. This is a bad question. It's nothing like the Chaos Walking trilogy, but I loved the crap out of those books, so go read them. They're great.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love the endless possibilities of space. I love that my mind can't even begin to fathom how huge or old the universe is. And although I haven't read a ton of classic science fiction, I do love almost any space movie or show, and you might recognize the influence of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica in my book. I love them all equally.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

My breakthrough moment on that business trip in 2008 was that my story needed to start in the aftermath of some terrible catalyst (hence the title FULCRUM, yes? yes? okay, no). And then I spend the rest of the book trying desperately hard to kill all my characters. You'll have to read the book to find out whether I succeed or not...

Wow, so just about everyone has done this one already...I dug through my feed and found a few writer friends who look like they possibly haven't yet, so I'm tagging Dana Elmendorf, Karen Akins, Cortney Pearson and Morgan Shamy. Ladies, feel free to participate--or not participate--at your leisure! 


  1. Love the collage. And titles are just the worst. WHY DO THEY HAVE TO BE SO HARD?!

    SO excited for this book! :D

  2. Hehe, love this! I'd never seen the collage before...

    1. Yeah, I kept that one locked far away. I'm really baring my soul here!

    2. I love that Liz's bachelorette party is scheduled on there! I'm assuming it's this Liz??? ^^^^

    3. Hahaha, no, I didn't know this Liz yet. I'm currently up to four Lizzes in my life, so these days they always come accompanied by an initial!

  3. I love your calendar word tracker and totally share your irritation with titling. TOTALLY.

    Can't wait for this book!! xo

  4. Great collage - I love all those actors, myself. :) And I have a harder time reading science fiction than watching it too, although there are some sci-fi books I absolutely love. :)

  5. I love your collage and calendar word tracker! How fun :)

  6. Rachel, you're too entertaining! This was way fun. It's also fun to read about the backstory to this story that is already successful. And I get the story emerging from revisions. Right now, my book is TOTALLY coming to life in a way I never thought it would--I guess there are *some* benefits to slaving over a hard revision? :)

    And thanks so much for the tag. I need to do this! :D

  7. I really like how you used Google Calendar to track your word count. I've been trying to write at least 500 words every other day, and often hit a higher count (whee!). I'd love to keep track of the number (so I can throw myself dance parties, etc.), but I haven't found the perfect method. This looks like a great solution, so thanks for sharing! :)

  8. So fabulous! And I agree with the others on the calendar thing. I can't wait to see your book on the shelves!!! :D

  9. I love that you kept track of everything on your calendar! How much fun to be able to look back at that now! :-)

  10. I love learning more about your book! My most recent one flirts on the edge between MG and YA as well (the one I'm querying). And so cool that your husband works on rockets! I imagine he had good insight into outer space related things for your book. Can't wait to read it!

  11. Love hearing about your writer's journey. I can't wait to plop your book on my classroom shelf. I know already I'll have to buy multiple copies.

  12. Love hearing this! Cannot wait to hear more on your book, and READ it!

    Fabulous blog!