Sorry for the late post, Arrowheads! My area has been hit by snowstorm Grayson, and I’ve been playing in the rare snow we received like a little kid! 😛
Anyway, for the past seven years, I’ve been working on writing other novels after the completion of Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl‘s first draft in December 2010. The first WIP was a hit-and-miss attempt at a sequel to CBTHOACG, entitled Can’t Break the Heart of a Carolina Girl. I had a few ideas for a continuation of Riley and her friends’ story into their sophomore year, but at the time, the writing and events felt forced, and I only wrote a chapter or two. Many readers have asked if I’ll ever write a sequel, but as of right now, the answer is still a “no”. The other characters in my standalone novels need me more right now. 🙂
But, around the same time of the epic failure that is Break, I received inspiration for one of my current WIPs, Speak Your Mind. I remember it like it was yesterday: Spanish class, junior year of high school. We had a free class period, and I had plenty of fresh pages in my spiral notebook. For whatever reason, my middle school years were on my mind that day. Growing up, I was about ten miles past shy, often resulting in responding to other students with short sentences or head nods whenever they talked to me. As a result, well, I got picked on a lot. Then it hit me… I was sure thousands of other middle schoolers–as well as elementary and high schoolers–have also experienced the same things due to shyness. Thus, Speak Your Mind was born.
The format of the original Notebook Chapters of Speak Your Mind were inspired by the style of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Jamie Bartlett’s novel, Is Saves the World from one of my favorite DCOMs, Read it and Weep. I loved the idea of a doodle-diary story, though I ditched the diary concept and kept the first person narrative. Eventually, when I finally created a Word doc for the novel, I ditched the doodles as well. I’m not a talented artist. XD
Very few events in the novel are inspired by my middle school career though, minus getting hit by dodgeballs in PE, and the Teacher’s Pet nickname. The novel itself is about more than shyness; the main character–Victoria Harding–endures trials including the aftermath of her best friend moving away after a controversial event, being bullied by the school’s popular group, being volunteered to escort her new neighbor around school by her Mom, along with numerous other middle school mishaps and a cast of unique and crazy characters.
So, why has finishing Speak Your Mind taken seven years for me to pen? Well, after writing the first four or five Notebook Chapters, I hit a roadblock and didn’t know how to continue it. For two years, I let the file sit dormant on my laptop, while I started writing yet another WIP (my most stubborn brainchild, by the way), and picked it back up randomly one night. Since then, I added to it off and on, until I finally got serious about it last summer. I had spent so much time prepping for CBTHOACG‘s publication, and after I survived my senior year of college, I made finishing Speak Your Mind my main writing goal.
Now at 180-something pages, I’m estimating it’s 75% done. My goal is to have the draft finished by June, and to spend July-October editing, prepping, and promoting the novel before its tentative release on November 24, 2018… Victoria’s birthday. 🙂
Thanks for reading! Hopefully I’ll be posting more updates about Speak Your Mind soon!