Beyond My Mind’s Eye

In the 11th grade, I found my English teacher fascinating and brilliant.  She not only taught, she inspired, she motivated, she encouraged, and she believed.  One day, she called me up to her desk.  I was certain I was in trouble.  She had just separated my best friend and me, so instead of passing notes the traditional way, we were forced to write notes big enough to read from across the room, particularly hilarious notes that day, if I recall, which resulted in unsquelchable laughter.  (That’s a word.)  When I arrived at her desk, she handed me a short story I wrote inspired by Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and said, “You have the gift of writing.  I hope you’ll use it.”

My beautiful IRL/blogger bestie, Beth, over at Writer B is Me sent me a text the other day that said something like, “Hey, NBD, but I want to pass this thing to you for your blog where you’ll basically just answer questions about your writing.”

I think I said, “Oh, okay.  Sounds like fun.”

So that little text landed me next in the My Writing Process Blog Tour.  Little did I know that the questions would be real and want to know about my *real* writing, and that they would make me *think.*  Thank you, Beth, for  pushing me out of my hole where I was hiding with my…well you’ll see.

 

~ What am I working on? 

I’m not working on anything currently because as I type this, my editor is working diligently to help me mold and shape my first novel.  I can’t believe I’m talking about it out loud (in type) because it’s sort of my little secret that I like to keep in my locked treasure box and only share with a few choice people.   I have gone through a lot of emotions in regards to passing this to an editor, to allow a stranger to see my words, but I can’t hide it forever.  It’s time, and it is quite the surreal feeling to not work on it, to not constantly think about it, obsess about it, about them…my characters because that’s what I’ve done for almost two years.  I miss them.

 

~How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I read across all genres, my favorite being Historical Fiction, but I do not discriminate.  When I began writing my book, I originally wanted it to be dark and twisted, a psychological thriller with a romantic undertone, but my main character became so real to me as I developed her that her story took a different path and landed in more of a “contemporary romance” genre, which I sprinkled with a few dark twists and a lot of sex.  This story differs from typical contemporary romance stories in that my main character is not your every day heroine.  She’s a deep thinker but shallow, a narcissist but insecure, she’s troubled but well kept.  But the real unexpected difference in this story and the typical “contemporary romance” is the ending.  Not every story ends with the boy and girl riding off together into the sunset, or at least this story doesn’t.

 

~Why do I write what I do?

I earned my degree in Psychology, and had I not been so incredibly broke, I would most certainly have pursued a PhD specializing in drug addiction and suicide.  One morning, I heard a song while I was in the shower, and it spoke to me.  I imagined the person from the lyrics.  I thought about her all day.  She personified in my head, and when she interfered with my slumber, I pulled out my laptop and wrote my first chapter. I decided her story should be told, so I told it.  I grow tired of reading stories that tie a pretty pink ribbon around the ending.  Sometimes a story needs a real ending, one chalked full of rips and scrapes, heartbeats and flat lines, and authenticity.

 

~How does my writing process work?

It’s a result of obsessively obsessing. I never write an outline.  I start with a blank canvas.  I see a character, and I begin painting her/him in my head.  When she/he is real to me, I write the words.  The first words never stick, so I rewrite, and rewrite again.  I think I wrote my first chapter over twenty-seven times.  There is a point in the book where the story takes a really sharp turn, and I took two months off of writing to work the story line over in my head, to make sure the turn left its mark – a little emotional whiplash hopefully.

I find massive inspiration in music, my number one muse, which makes up the soundtrack to what I write.  Some of the scenes in the book are built around a song that grabbed me and had to be part of the story.  And then there are parts inspired by the raw emotion I felt during a soulful duet that resulted from a piano’s dance with a cello.

I also rely heavily on my beta readers to help me shape the story.  I chose some avid readers and talented writers (one of them (ahem…Beth) is mentioned earlier, and just wait until you read her book) to take on this role, and wow…the feedback was incredible.  My best friend suffered through some very raw and ugly words from the beginning, and I could not be more grateful for the straightforward criticism that she offered and for her relentless support and encouragement.  I truly have an all-star beta team, to whom I am eternally indebted.  I may have to wash a few cars, shine some shoes, maybe even flash my boobs because my betas rock my world.

So there you have it.  I wrote a book.  Maybe you will read it hopefully some time before the end of the year.  If I’m brave enough…

Someone who is brave and has a captivating and amazing story is my sweet blogger friend, Sandy at Mother of Imperfection.  Her posts sometimes leave me searching for a tissue, sometimes make me giggle, but always, always make me love her more.  Look for Sandy’s post next Monday, April 27th.  I can’t wait to see what she has to say.

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51 thoughts on “Beyond My Mind’s Eye

  1. This is amazing 🙂 I can’t wait to hear more about your book. I just recently started thinking maybe all my ramblings should be combined into something at some point. I dunno.

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    • Were we reading each other’s blogs at the same time? That some SW telepathy for sure.

      I can’t wait to share more about my book. It’s still so early in the process, but I’m hoping that I’ll have it all snipped and shaped by the end of the year, maybe before. We’ll see.

      As far as your book potential…if it’s twisting around in your head, put it on paper. You never know.

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  2. I knew it! I knew you had to be writing one and I hope to read it someday. Music is a huge source of inspiration for me as well. I too wanted to get my PhD (clinical psychology) but I couldn’t stomach any more student loans. Loved reading about your process, SW.

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    • Thanks, SW. How did you *know*? I didn’t tell anyone, except for Beth…and I know she’s not talking.

      Damn those student loans. I’m still paying mine off. Makes me swear and shake my fist every time I make one of those damned payments, too. I’ve been out of college for over 10 years.

      I read your process earlier this week from my phone, but I don’t think I commented. I love the fact that you’re trying to write without getting sticky from your toddler. I know the feeling.

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      • I just had a feeling I guess. 🙂 Haha, it’s sad that I have to include that as my process, but that will be changing in two weeks! My son starts kindergarten (preschool in the states) and I can have a few hours all to myself! Woot!

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  3. I cannot wait to read your novel, Mandi! I will flash you a million times over if I can get my hands on a pre-publication copy. And I want to interview you on my blog. And I want an autographed copy. Am I getting ahead of myself? Sorry – I’m just so excited! Not only to have a friend who wrote a novel, but a novel that I would pick off the shelf even if I didn’t know how awesome you were. Yay!!!!

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  4. Hey Celly! That book of yours sounds amazing (wink wink). When you do a book signing tour will you come to my town please? I need my copy autographed. Dont forget your roots when you go big time. How do I get flashed too????

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  5. I can’t tell you how much I love learning what inspired this story, and what things sculpted the plots and characters. It’s fascinating to me how other creatives do this thing called writing.

    ADORE Sandy, and can’t wait to read hers answers!!

    I’m swoonish (made it up but it works) with pride that I was lucky enough to be trusted with your baby. Your novel is SO GOOD. It’s not predictable, which I effing love. It’s complex and beautiful; painful and surprising. I’m so excited for you!

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    • Maybe I should have you write my blurb or whatever it’s called. The little piece that goes on the back cover. I’m stuck. I can’t seem to piece two sentences together for it.

      I enjoyed writing this. It’s fun to see how other writers’ minds work for sure. I want to walk around in yours and take photos, but I think I said that already.

      Yeah, Sandy is adore..able. I can’t wait to read what she has to say.

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  6. Fascinating background to what you’ve been up to, Mandi, and I loved hearing your writing process. BEYOND PLEASED that you hook into songs for inspiration…and I cannot wait to read what that inspiration has created.

    The plot, insofar as you’ve described it, sounds complex and twisty, and I hope I’m not going to be left with an ending where I want to come and pound on you for not making it at least SOME kind of okay.

    A book hangover is one thing (and it’s always enjoyable to be left with one of them) but a non-closure book nightmare…I only hope you’re not that cruel 🙂

    Trusting that your betas are spot on 🙂 I’ve been transfixed by your writing before, and I know just how good you can get 🙂 Looking forward to being able to buy this soon 🙂

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    • Oh, maybe you shouldn’t read it, Lizzi. You might just want to come and pound me when you read the ending. But since we’re friends, you’ll forgive me, right? And from what I gather from my betas, a book hanger you will have. Hopefully.

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      • I definitely shouldn’t read it before I finish Anitra’s story then, lest I’m tempted to wreak some kind of awful vengeance that way. I’ll forgive you anyway, but particularly if you get me bookdrunk and leave me hungover.

        (Hasty’s blog ate your reply – I’m rolling my eyes and telling you I’ll accept a compliment if you well. Anyway, words are easy so I can get arrogant about that)

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      • I think we got past the Hasty comments. I like being your squishy lovely or whatever you called me. I think Anitra’s story will unravel as you type. You’re good like that. In no way do I think my book will tempt anything in yours. Two very different stories, but as I type that…Anitra and Paige (that’s my main lady) do have a lot in common. Hmmm…maybe there is a connection. I take back everything. Don’t read it. Actually, you’re sort of contractually obligated to read it. I think it’s in the SW contract.

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      • *reads small print* Damn. You’re right.

        I reeeeeally better get writing, lest my Muse piss me off by doing something awful to her readers (like leave them without closure) and I find vengeance by letting Anitra get beaten up.

        Hurry up MAY! Good GRIEF! Isn’t this AZ thing over already?

        Fine. I think it’s kind of stuck now, anyway. You shall be my Squishy, whatever weird connotations other people contextualise that as :p

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  7. This is fantastic! I love reading about other people’s writing processes. Though it does make me feel like an amateur pounding away on my laptop over here. Congratulations on the book! I cant wait to get my hands on a copy!

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    • Pfft…I’m the amateur. I just have all of these voices in my head screaming at me all of the time, so I have to let them have their say from time to time. I’m so excited that you want a copy. I think I’m at about 10 copies sold at this point. I’ll take it!

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  8. Oooohhhhh!!!

    YAY!

    Grats on the book and I can’t wait to hear more about it. And i totally agree, books need more of the “not so happily ever after” endings.

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  9. Well, looks like I’ll be getting another autographed copy of a novel written by a Texas hottie! I am excited that you are writing a novel and be brave, I want to read it!! Pretty please 🙂
    You sure raised the bar as far as answering the questions goes….now I’m really going to have to step up my game 🙂

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    • *Looks around* Hottie? Me? I really hope I’ll be brave. It’s kind of intimidating when there are so many brilliant novels being released every week, but I worked really hard, so I’m just going to have to put on my big girl panties and do it.

      And you will get a copy for sure.

      Now, about that bar…you’re already way above it. No worries, but I, like Beth, might have undersold it a little.

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  10. I am SO excited to read this – it sounds fab!! Especially this line: “I grow tired of reading stories that tie a pretty pink ribbon around the ending.” I am so in!!

    You know if you come to Sweden you could do a free PHD… JUST SAYING 😉

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      • Yep! You also get a grant to cover your living expenses while you study – I know a lot of writers/screenwriters that just keep doing degrees as their day job. It is bizarre and excellent.

        Same way I ski. Put a helmet on, close my eyes, and scream at top speed all the way down. And I know it is!

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  11. Can’t wait to read your novel! Mathair and I are waiting with baited breath. 😉 I had a teacher in high school that was instrumental to my writing career and go figure it was my geometry teacher that told me to broaden my mind and lean on my creativity. LOL Weird, I know, but I credit him with my willingness to embrace the stories in my head.

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    • Wow, if a geometry teacher inspired your writing, I tip my hat to him. That’s weird but interesting and super cool. I would love to see what happens in your head. I saw Beth is reading your latest book, which I have on my TBR. I hope my novel doesn’t disappoint, but so far, the editor that I’m using seems to be brilliant, and I think she’s going to be key in making it what it needs to be.

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  12. That is SO awesome! Getting to that point, even having finished chapters, that’s the dream!
    I can’t wait to read this book. I agree about all the happy endings all the time. BORING. It’s why I love Stephen King and George RR Martin, the 2nd is not afraid to make you love a character and then kill him, and the 1st is just so weird you never know WHAT is comin at ya, bro. I often think his endings kind of stink, but at least they’re typical or boring or predictable. Awesome!

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    • I love George RR Martin, and as a teenager, I went through a huge Stephen King phase (which really upset preacher father), and I think that’s why. I love and hate that George kills all of my favorite characters, but that’s real. Not everyone gets their dream come true. Shit happens…at least that’s what they say. And predictable is boring. For sure.

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  13. Congrats on working on your book! That is so exciting and it sounds like you are really moving along with the process. I am visiting from the Bloppy Bloggers FB group. Cheers!

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Jaws, and thank you for the support. I can’t lie. Writing a book was a lot more fun than I even thought it would be, and I know I’ve really just begun. They say the writing it is the hardest part. I’ll be stopping by soon.

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  14. this is the problem with TV and movies – so.predictable. I want my hands on this book. BT seems like a good judge of writing (because she’s left me a good comment or two) so I’m sold. And I want the un-bow-wrapped ending. Can you give that to me?

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  15. First, I can’t believe I missed this post back in April! Second, I am bouncing up and down in my chair right now at the idea of reading a novel that came from the brain of Mandi! And I’m in awe and impressed. I obsess too and writing a book I imagine will take me years. Maybe decades. I have been anxiously awaiting Beth’s also, I remember seeing you (on Twitter, maybe) taunt her about wanting to read the next chapter (and I feel like a total stalker right now. Blogging and social media are weird voyeuristic things, aren’t they?) Third, music! My mind works just like yours in that way. The few measly chapters I’ve written are definitely influenced by certain songs. Sometimes I’ll listen to a certain song over and over while I’m writing to put me in a certain place and mindset.

    I can’t wait for your book! I’ll help promote the hell out of it! I’ll have my book club read it (ooohhh, and maybe you could make a guest appearance at it via phone/skype whatever!)

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    • Ohmigosh! You are hilarious. Thank you for reading this and for nominating me. I wrote this back when my editor had my book. Now it’s in my hands again, and holy lots of rewrites, Gretchen. It’s been a process to get back into the mind of my narrator, so it’s taking me FOREVER to get it done. Not to mention that I’ve had two children home all summer, so that’s also interrupted a lot of writing. At any rate, I’m hoping to finish my rewrites by the end of Sept then send to my editor for a final proof and clean up then…who knows what we do next? She’s amazing though, so if you ever do finish your book, I have a great editor to recommend.

      Once I’m finished though, I would love to skype with your book club. I am in a book club and we would flip for an author to interact with us….I don’t think I’m an author though – for the record. Okay – enough of this gynormously long comment.

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