Friday, February 26, 2010

Words from a Writer: Happy Birthday Aiden!

One of the characters in a novel that I am cowriting with Crystal is celebrating his birthday today.

Image from

In order to celebrate his birthday, I thought I would share how his novel came to be. Below is the story of how Crystal and I came up with one of the novels we are working on (re)writing.

The journey to get our first novel written and finished has been a long and interesting one.

Let me begin at the beginning if I can figure out where that is.

Around six years ago when we were both still in high school, we first came up with the idea to co-write a novel together. We both enjoy writing and it seemed like a fun way to share this passion. We set out to write a novel about eight teens who discover they have magical powers. As we started on this novel, the story began to evolve and outgrow itself. It was no longer the simple novel, Enchantment, that it had started out as.

What started out as a single novel about eight teens quickly became a novel about the Ennea - a ruling group of nine who keep the magical world in balance. This group and magic on Earth originated from another world known as Aurum. 1000 years ago, a simple wizard named Wendel, messed up a spell bringing the Ennea on a one-way trip to Earth. Now, the latest Ennea has to figure out a way back to Aurum before it's too late. We continued working on and evolving this story over the course of our years.

With time, we found that our interest in Enchantment dwindled some. What had started out as a simple novel had turned into a much larger project that was going to span more than one book. The 150+ pages we had already were going to have to rewritten and updated. We were still very attached to these characters, but we weren't sure it was the project we wanted for our summerwrite experience.

That's the background to us writing together. Now, here's the story of how Dancing beneath the Moon came to be:

It was all set in motion in April of 2009 when Myrtle Beach caught on fire this past spring. We were supposed to be going to see the band Blue October in concert at the House of Blues. However, with the disaster of the fire, Myrtle Beach was using the House of Blues as a shelter. We received a call the day before the concert (it was going to be on a Friday) that it had been cancelled. Our money was refunded and luckily we were also able to get out of our hotel reservations.

We weren't happy about our weekend plans being ruint so we looked to find an alternative for the weekend. We decided to return to the Georgia Renaissance Festival for a second time. We had already been once this year, but it would give us something to do. We booked the hotel and packed our stuff.

The car trip to Fairburn, GA from our house is about six hours. On I-20, they have been doing construction, so the trip tends to seem even longer. Somewhere along the interstate, we started talking about Summerwrite. I was leaning towards doing it, with hopes that it would turn out better than Nano. Crystal wasn't sure if she wanted to do it or if she had the time to devote to it with her work schedule for the summer. Plus, we weren't sure we were ready to revisit Enchantment just yet.

We started talking about how much we would love to see our names in print one day. We decided that it would probably be in our best interest if we started with something smaller than Enchantment (which looks like it's going to be a series consisting of 9 books). So, we set out to write a single novel. We started tossing ideas around.

I threw out the idea that we had talked about before - the darker side of magic with werewolves, vampires, etc. We had once discussed the possibility of them originating from another world (similar to but different from Enchantment). We set out talking about how this would work. Soon, I had a page of notes about various "dark" magical creatures and key details about them. We decided that they would all be orginated from the combination of demons and humans.

This was great, but how to narrow things down to just one book. We decided to pick one creature and focus on it. This didn't mean that the other creatures wouldn't be in the book. It simply meant that one creature would be our focus. We quickly ruled out vampires. There's too much out there on them right now and we didn't want them to be our focus. Looking at the list, it wasn't long before we leaned towards werewolves.

We both agreed that these werewolves would be humans who turn into wolves (which I adore), not humans who turn into hairy men (which I very much dislike). Next, we set about deciding the basics of it. We decided that it would focus on a boy and girl in high school. One would be a werewolf and the other would be human. Naturally, it would be a love story.

We decided the werewolf should be a boy and the human should be a girl. The story would be told in alternating points of view. One chapter would focus on the werewolf, followed by the next chapter focused on the human. I'm not sure how we decided, but I would be writing the werewolf chapters and Crystal would be responsible for the human chapters.

Next came the issue of names, which is where things start to get freaky. I quickly chose Aiden for the boy, but Crystal was having a hard time with names for the girl. We're driving down the road and she finally says "Which do you like better, Madison or Emmeline?" At the exact same moment that she says this, I see a sign that says "Madison so many miles, Atlanta so many miles." I immediately respond with a giggle and Madison. Then, I have to explain why. We decide her name was meant to be.

We spend the next hour looking around road signs for clues to the rest of their names. Madison is glaring us in the eye from everywhere (there's a town in Georgia named Madison). I settle on Sinclaire for Aiden's name based on a sign for Lake Sinclair. And Crystal finishes Madison's name out to be Madison Faith Burbank after a long discussion and a lot of suggestions.

The story was born - it had characters and a loose plot. We spent the rest of the trip talking about it every minute we got (which was a lot). It began to take shape. We returned home and signed up for Summerwrite. We started writing our novel on May 1st with the kick off to summerwrite. With the nature of writing together, it meant that we couldn't always work on Dancing beneath the Moon when we were writing, so we each picked up various other writing projects to fill our time and help keep the creativity flowing. Among these is the short story "Howling" that I wrote. It contains the back story to Aiden's parents. You can find it over at my writing journal if you're interested in reading it.

There's been several other fun things in the adventure of writing this novel, but since this post has gotten so long, I'm going to stop here. I'll post more in the future regarding the other freaky things that have helped lead to the completion of our first novel! Also, be on the lookout for a synopsis of it. We won't be posting it online (because the plan is to get it published), but we may let some people read it after it's been edited.

Oh, and somewhere along the way, Aiden and Madison outgrew the spanse of one book, so unfortunately, their story will not be just one novel as originally planned. The good thing is that Dancing beneath the Moon can stand alone and is not reliant on it's future novel(s)!


  1. What a fun journey. Isn't it great what happens "somewhere along the way" ? :)

  2. Those are definitely my most favorite moments of writing. When things fall into place, it makes me feel like this piece is special.