Thursday, April 17, 2008

Anniversary and the Novel meme

Okay, I’m probably a big dork for keeping track of this, but in case you haven’t noticed I’m pretty darn sentimental so I do have a mental catalogue of significant dates, some good, some bad. Like last Friday when I was feeling upset for no reason and had had a bad dream about a bad person and then realized after looking at an old diary entry that a Very Bad Thing, actually The Worst Ever Thing That Has Happened To Me had occurred exactly thirteen years ago to the day. But today I am celebrating the one year anniversary of The Best Ever Thing That Has Happened To Me. One year ago today, I found out around 3 pm that we’d sold IWBYJR!

In honor of this fabulous anniversary, I’ve decided to do the novel meme. I’ve had a lot of fun reading about other people’s early projects, incomplete mss, and current WIP, so I thought this would be a good day to play. So here are mine.

Early Works:

  1. 1995- Sunburn and Euphoria. Not really a novel, a collection of poems and a novella called “Clarence and Veronica” about a teenage boy with an abusive father and an oblivious mother. I think the boy killed himself at the end. Or became a drug addict. I wrote it when I was fifteen and sixteen and those were common themes in my work back then. Oh, uh, wait, they still are. The poems were bad knockoffs of Hole and Babes in Toyland lyrics/wanna-be Sylvia Plath stuff, similar to those I shared in my bad poetry blog, in fact I’m sure some of them were included. I still have Sunburn and Euphoria somewhere but haven’t looked at it since I last moved. I was in my zine phase, so I assembled it in zine like fashion. I drew a picture of a foot in a pink ballet slipper and I think it had Sid scarred into the ankle because I had carved Sid, my cat’s name into my own ankle with a safety pin to cover up my ex-boyfriend’s initials. Sigh, teenage angst. Anyway, so I color-copied this cover and then copied the rest of the of the book, but I never sent it off anywhere, thank god. I did throw it onstage for Courtney Love at a Hole show because I’m a huge dork and I submitted the poems places.
  2. 1997 to 2000- Comatose. A short story collection that I never finished. The stories were very vague and sparse, more like a prose poem. The title story was about sitting in a diner (still a theme in my work!). There was another one about a girl whose boyfriend always told her to shut the window when he was nodding out on heroin. Other things like that, minute events with a lot of emotion. My ex-boyfriend wanted to turn them in a screenplay for an art film. It would have made a very pretentious art film, but it may have worked. I still think about stealing character’s names and themes from these, but other than that, they will never see the light of day. Unfortunately I did try submitting them to lit mags. Sigh.

Actual Serious Attempts:

  1. 2001 to 2002- Goblins. My first attempt at YA. Took some of the characters from Comatose and gave them a real plot. Never finished, will be revisiting and revamping in the future. One chapter was published in a lit mag.
  2. 2001 to 2002- Sixteen. A short story collection, was supposed to be sixteen stories of different characters who had life altering events at sixteen. Wrote about six of the stories before realizing I’m more of a novelist than a short story writer. Turning some of the stories into future novel ideas.
  3. 2001 to 2002- The Morning After. (Can you tell that 2001 to 2002 is when I went back to school for writing, I suddenly got extremely productive!) This was the first novel I completed. I wrote most of it over one summer. Didn’t generally share it in class because it felt too personal. Um, yeah, after finishing it I realized it was thinly veiled autobiography and I did not like that. I shoved it in a drawer and decided I would come back to it when I could figure out how to make it honest to god fiction.

Published Work:

  1. 2003 to 2008- I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. Actually I think I wrote the short stories where I discovered Louisa and Emily in 2002. Started seriously writing it as a novel (though first a novel-in-stories) in 2003. Was my Master’s thesis project. Met my agent in 2005 and struggled to finish the book that summer. She accepted it with revisions and started submitting it in early 2006. I did not revisit it again until 2007. I did revisions in fall 2007, copyedits at the beginning of January 2008 and of course it will be out in July 2008.

Anxiously Waiting To Find Out If It Will Be A Published Work:

  1. 2006 to 2008- Ballads of Suburbia. I figured out how to make The Morning After into honest to god fiction. (And there is nothing about it that is from my life anymore except the town in which it is set and the places the characters hang out. Oh and a reference to drive-by fruitings and a friend made while shoplifting.) I started completely from scratch, the only thing I kept from TMA was the character names. Wrote a first draft in lightning speed in 2006. Revisions were a struggle that took much of 2007 and into 2008. And now I wait…. Painfully and nervously. But you can read an excerpt of it here.


  1. 2007- present- Anarchists, Soap Stars, Demons, and Regulars. Started this while waiting for agent’s feedback on Ballads. It combines the characters from the aborted Goblins novel with characters from a short story. (I do that a lot, realizing characters from different works can be linked.) The Goblins characters are teens and the short story characters are their moms, who had them young and really haven’t faced certain aspects of adulthood. They are faced to when the kids go on a road trip that goes awry when the boy, Jake’s mental illness surfaces. To explain the title, Zoe, the girl teen considers herself an anarchist, Jake’s mom escapes from her problems by watching soap operas, Jake sees demons as part of his schizophrenic break, and Zoe’s mom, Ivy, preserves her youth by refusing to get a real job and working as a bartender. Lots of ideas about this, but not fully formed and it’s not taking my attention at the moment. Will be returning to it.
  2. 2007-present- Untitled (aka. The Runaway story). Started this a week or two before I got IWBYJR revisions and had to stop. Based on some of the Sixteen short stories though I’ve bumped my characters up to seventeen when the traumatizing event happens. Two of them runaway because of the event and the story takes place two years later when the others are still coping and wondering and one of them meets a truck stop waitress/former rock star who knows what happened to their friends. Continued working on this up until a few weeks ago, but the structure is different and I haven’t wrapped my head around it yet. Plus the next project bullied its way into my brain, demanding full attention. I will certainly come back to this.
  3. 2008-present- Red Eyes on Orange Horizons (aka The Persephone story or The Revenge story). This is my current baby. I’m 50 pages in, hoping to have a proposal to my agent by the end of this week though my synopsis may be crap because I know the beginning and the end but not the middle (often how I work, except with IWBYJR which I discovered in dribs and drabs completely non-linearly and I didn’t know much about the end until I got pretty close to it). It comes from one of the Sixteen stories, though again now my MC’s are seventeen and I really figured out a lot of the story on the elliptical while listening to the song that the working title comes from. Can anyone name the tune that “Red eyes on orange horizons” is a lyric in? The band that wrote the song is from Chicago, though a Florida band did an excellent cover that some say is even better than the original… Anyway, the main character of the book is Stevie whose sister Cori just committed suicide. Stevie and Cori’s on-again, off-again best friend Seph try to figure out why and Seph aims to get revenge on the person or people who drove her to it. Seph is short for Persephone, and she’s the daughter of a (dead) rock star and a supermodel, hence the funky celeb baby name. But of course, I really used the name because this is my modern version of the Persephone myth. Seph and Cori (a play on Persephone’s other name Kore) were kidnapped as small girls and have had years of hell ever since…
  4. Still in my head and sometimes in my blog- Memoir/creative essay collection ala Queen of the Oddballs. It will happen. I have too many crazy stories to tell…

1 comment:


Dude, you are one seriously prolific writer. I'm blown away, awed, inspired, and can't wait to see many, many of these stories in the pages of bestselling novels. Quite simply, you rock! XOXO