I'm breezing through a new manuscript right now. I can't wait to rush to the computer in the morning, I hate that groggy feeling at night that signals the end of productive writing time. I think about the characters all day, running their dialogues around in my head. When I can't get to the keyboard I use my phone's digital recorder and speak ideas into or conversations into it, and I text myself messages, like "don't forget to have Agnes use the gas leaf blower to. . . ." (You'll have to wait to read that funny scene.)
I love it when writing comes together like this--with all the pistons firing, the ideas flowing so fast I can scarcely type them before a new one barges in. I've thought about getting the old "Dragon Speak" software out so I can dictate the story. I honestly think I could tell it a one long sitting, That's how clear it is to me right now.
I haven't had this clarity in a long time, and the reason is, my mind was complicated with so many other issues. The difference now? I'm writing about events currently occurring in my sometimes crazy world. Every day yields living research, and every day a new hilarious, frustrating, tender story unfolds.
The new book had gone through several titles already--Ricochet, Moon River, The Dragons of Alsace Farm. Right now I'm settling on The Rabbits of Alsace Farm, a far cry from a title about dragons, but both fit the story, and this one highlights a more tender aspect of the story.
Intrigued? OOhhhh. I hope so.
The story is coming together so seamlessly, and so fast, but in truth, it has been about a decade in the making, and portions of the writing date back to things I literally wrote a decade ago. It's basically a quilted manuscript, and here's why. I started a sequel to my first novel, Unspoken, soon after it was released, but it wasn't picked up. The main theme wrapped around two young men who were each broken in their own way and vying for the same young woman. I have always loved the minor character, and the settings, but the manuscript sat on a shelf for ten years, as did the parts I loved.
About three years ago my mother began showing serious indications of dementia, and last January she was medically diagnosed. Since then, the family has been on a roller coaster ride of emotions from worry and stress, to sorrow and parenthood. Some days are very hard. Some are priceless.
Enter a very compassionate, mildly disabled married couple willing to live with Mom and be her helper in exchange for the right to live on the farm and raise some animals and crops. This arrangement is now a model that might one day bless the lives of others in my mother's situation.
The book isn't biographical about Mom and her friends, but the scenario touched me and I saw the good that could come from offering a a glimpse into the complicated world of supporting a parent with dementia.
But I needed a character in a situaiton similar to my mother. And who could characterize the goodness and vulnerability of this couple? I pulled those beloved characters from my old manuscript. Like I said, it's coming together seamlessly.
I'll be posting on here about the book, and also about Mom and her caregivers from time to time. I hope you'll follow along. So many families will have parents who begin the slide into the terrible rabbit hole of dementia, (she how the title fits in?) and I hope my experiences will help others support their loved one with humor and grace.
All the best.
I'm writing this at six thousand feet above ground, on my return trip home from teaching two workshops at the LDStorymakers Midwest conference in Olathe, Kansas. I always end up humbled after LDS writers's conferences. The talent that gathers awes me, both by those published and those whose names and book titles will be hitting shelves in the next year or two.
Danyelle Ferguson, John Ferguson, Lynn Parsons, and their committee threw a flawless conference. great class topics, a terrific assembly of teacher/writers/mentors, great food, amazing speakers, and spurts of clever fun tossed in. Kansas did herself proud, opening her arms and doling out hospitality as sweet at their signature cherry crush candies. Thank you, thank you Kansas!
Once again, stellar authors generously set aside deadlines and family time to enthusiastically nurture new talent and celebrate the successes of new break-out writers.
Imagine the opportunity to get advice from Lisa Mangum, who is not only an editor a Deseret Books, but a nationally-acclaimed author racking up a to-die-for list of awards. Or how about getting writing tips from suspense queen Traci Hunter Abramson, or sweet mystery diva Josi Kilpack? What fantasy-lover wouldn't love getting into the mind off Karen Hoover? And when Heather Justeson, Don Carey, and Steve Westover step in front of a class, you know you're going to get terrific advice.
So if you love to write, and a smaller, more intimate setting suits you, mark your calendars for next year's conference. Check out LDStorymakers.com website next summer for details. And if large, stellar conferences are more to your liking, prepare to register the the LDStorymakers annual conference in Provo, Utah May 10-11, 2013. Registration opens in December. Details for this premier conference are also on the Storymakers' site.