Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Next Big Thing Challenge

 M.L. Falconer  , a wonderful writer, recently participated in the Next Big Thing Challenge.  This is a fun way for writers to connect and learn a little about each other.  Writing can be such a solitary pursuit--it's nice to take these breaks.

M.L. is not only a talented writer, but a super nice person, as well. Go on over--click on his name above,  visit him and check out some samples of his writing.  And say hello while you're there. :-)

I was fortunate that he thought of me when it came time to select other participants to pass the torch to.

The rules of this challenge are simple:
  • Answer the 10 NBTC questions below
  • Spread the fun and tag 5 awesome people to participate.
So, here we go!
1.) What is the title of your book/WIP?  "Across the Night Sky"

2.) Where did the idea for the book come from? Straight from my head..from a brain that developed on a steady diet of Star Wars, Star Trek, Love Story, Lost in Space, The Waltons, Starman, Cinderella, and The Sound Of Music.  My husband likes to tease me that it's Star Wars meets Little House on the Prairie ;-)

3.) What genre would your book fall under? Fiction. *blush* I really can't neatly place it in a box.   It has  fantasy elements...and romance...  and mainstream fiction.  And much of it takes place on a number of worlds across the galaxy.  So, I could add scifi elements to the list, too. And...Aurthurian legend.  No box fits. :-)

4.) What actors would you choose for your characters to play in a movie rendition? Scott Elrod, maybe, or Souleymane Sy Savane. Will Smith--but, he might actually be too old for the part.  And if I could cast Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) but have him learn Ralphe Fiennes's acting skills, perfect. Marissa I see as Michele Monahgan.   Abraxum is (and I am so sure about this one) Michael Clark Duncan.  I want to add that Dante's Prayer would play in snippets throughput the movie, and The Calling's "Wherever You Will Go" would play at the end when theatergoers are already crying. :-))

5.) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? Homeless and delusional, Marissa Kradel struggles to grasp reality, get back on her feet,  and get visitation of her four year old, without slipping into the fantastical belief that her dreams of an alien abduction and love born across the night sky are the answer to  two missing years of her life and her missing newborn child.

And. lol, I really don't think I can do this without writing a run on sentence! 

6.) Is your book published or represented? Neither.

7.)  How long did it take you to write? The first, very, very rough draft took 4 months--150,000 words. Unfortunately I knew nothing about the nuts and bolts of writing.  (I now know a little).    The first draft was written between October of 2005 and February of 2006. :-)  It is the first in a series--or could stand alone.  The characters were talking to me after I finished the ATNS--they wouldn't shut up. I was compelled to continue with the series.  So I rolled right on. I didn't slow until about midway through the third book.   During my first editing pass--and after a professional editor had read ATNS (one of those "winds of fortune" things that she was a friend of a friend--she liked the story, but was critical of all my overwriting), I had to learn what overwriting was.  Oh my. I immediately sliced out 30,000 very unnecessary words.  And yes. You read that right. A professional editor viewed my very, very rough draft--and I had no idea just how rough  it was. *still embarrassed*.   My mom kept telling me to send the first book to a publisher. I finally did, in 2008.  It took 3 months to get my first rejection letter.  I was undaunted, but also completely disorganized, very scatterbrained about what I was doing, and had made no advances toward learning technique or even the most basic things necessary to be published. All the while, the ebook revolution was swirling, changing the publishing landscape faster than I could get my feet settled. I promised my mom I'd get it published, and looked into Lulu. It was to have been her Christmas gift in 2010--a signed print copy--"to my biggest fan". But mom died in November of 2010. I also lost my job that year.  I spent the next 7 months, unemployed, searching for a job in my field, and writing. I wrote a half a million words while I was unemployed and struggling through my grief. And I went into serious sponge mode--interacting with the online writing community. I absorbed. 

If you read my six sentence Sunday posts, you know that not too far back, I reached an epiphany about my writing. And I've returned to the original book--a deeply emotional choice, and have begun to edit it (again).  But this time, I'm armed with a lot more knowledge about the writing craft. Part of this edit is bolstering one of the two concurrent story-lines in ATNS.  And, reminding myself that giving up passion in lieu of technique is a deathknell to a writer.  And, since the bolstering involves new writing. I had to include this whole long spiel to explain why I started writing it in 2005 and am still writing it in 2012. :-)

8.) What other books in your genre would you compare it to? I can't list a single book that answers that question--and I've given it lots of thought. I know that somewhere down the road, I will need to figure this out. 

9.) Which authors inspired you to write this book?  Colleen McCullough. Yes. bitterweet. And Ray Bradbury and Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Erich Segal... William Shakespeare and Rosemary Sutcliff .  Shakespeare and Sutcliff  probably a bit more than the others. The love, the hurt, the loss and longing.  The politics, the intrigues, the treachery, the honor and duty.  

10.) Tell us anything else that might pique our interest in your book. Hmm...well, the whole book is written as two story lines. One is the here and now.And the other storyline takes place in her dreams. The reader has to figure out if she  is crazy, or if her dreams really are memories. 

Now to pass the “Next Best Thing Challenge” on to other writers (the rules state to five--but I've been a rebel all my life ;-)whom I'd love to learn more about  Here, I have to just put this out there. There isn't an author with whom I interact that I wouldn't like to know more about. And I think my online "community" of writers are all awesome. Really. Having said that, if you're reading this, and you'd like to participate on your own blog, just leave me a comment--and a link so I can find my way to your blog and read about you and your WIP. :-)


  1. Looks like you are participating in one blog tag already. I came to tell you that there is an award for you on my blog. Congratulations!

    1. Thanks, Karen. Will try to get to it next week! :-)

  2. Your book sounds amazing! I'm so sorry that you lost your mom. How horrible that you also lost your job the same year. Teresa, you have such a positive outlook, and I know that all of your hard work will pay off. Julie

    1. What encouraging words, Julie. Thank you so much. Life goes on, even while we drag behind the accumulated pain and loss...it's all tempered by the joys of today. They are always there, waiting to be acknowledged. :-)

  3. I enjoyed the honest words, Teresa and in my book, you are a true-born writer. I believe you do it because you feel like you have no choice but to write, and that's the beauty and horror of writing all corded to a nice little packet. :)

    The years of "naive" writing, they are so very important. Later on we may learn what works and what doesn't in a story, but this wild, uncontrolled phase of pure drive gives birth to many great ideas!

    I'm so sorry that you lost so much in just one year, it must have been very hard. I remember last year when I miscarried, it did give me this strange propulsion to write, or better yet, not-stop writing, so I can sympathize with your industriousness. A lot of stuff gets done when life gets hard. :) I love your answer to question 7 and how you kept everything so conversational!

    And working in the title in your synopsis, very nice job! Wonderful, and I feel like I learned some new and interesting things, not only about the book, but about you and your writing! :)

    1. Hi Dana, Beauty and horror--so true ;-)

      Your words about the "naive" writing? As I read them I was humbled by the wisdom shared by one so young. :-)

      My dark night of the soul year. My job, my mom, our two dogs, 12 yr old Gus and my 15 yr old Pokey. I was living under a dark cloud. And you know, your post when you miscarried? I think that was the post I found you on. The first of your writing that I read.

      I reckon we found each other--both trying to write, think, and twist our way out of something we didn't quite know how to. I don't know how I wound up on your blog--but am grateful that I did. Such a good friend--and a marvelous writer with whom to share the struggle and the journey.

      Thank you for visiting and reading this, dearie. :-) Hugs...

    2. You are both amazing women!

      I went a full year of severe writer's block when my brother was killed, couldn't write a thing. It was debilitating. I went through a period of contemplation about why lousy crap happens. Surely all these things have put more passion and more real life experience into my work. The pain, the anguish and despair, it all makes for great writing though the cost of it is steep.

      I admire you both so much, for what you've been through and your writing.

    3. Yep, I am inclined to agree, ML. Those dark passages in our lives bring a depth to our written word that we'd otherwise not have to pull from. I am sorry about your brother. You are an amazing person whose come through some tough times!
      I am so glad we all "met" :-)

  4. It is so lovely to be back online and have access to my favourite blogs again-this is a great post- honesty, perseverance and passion :-) Thank you for being here!

    1. Whoo hoo! Lily has returned from the wilderness! I am so glad to see that your internet is up and running, bugs worked out!

      Thank you for visiting! I will visit soon. :-)

  5. You have a lovely if somewhat bittersweet writer story. I hope ATNS goes on to do well for you. :-)

  6. What a great post! I learnt so much about you and your writing! Best of luck reworking that first one. I turned my first romance into a fantasy, that was fun! lol.

    1. Oh my goodness, Tanya. A romance into a fantasy? I am starting to understand that this is a nightmare scenario that is far more common than I'd first guessed. We all have a fist novel/book we wrote. And for many of us--we had much to learn before it would ever see the light of day, lol... Whew! Big changes. And it is a rather grueling endeavor. :-) Thanks for visiting!

  7. Great post, Teresa. It's wonderful to get to know you and your work better. I feel for your loss of you mom. so much of my writing is inspired this way. I'd love to publish something before my mom passes. I had a best friend who committed suicide, and so I'm writing a book for her, in her memory. My writing is all I have to give back to her. Those things help to drive my writing.

    Love your one line synopsis and there is no rule that says it can't be a run on sentence. ;)

    I really love that you added part of your soundtrack for your book. That's a great idea. and both are wonderful tracks.

    and you're premise for this story is a knockout!!! I can't wait to read this when it's published. I'll attest that you have come a long way in your writing because what I read of your work puts me in awe most times. you have captured the despair that a person in your main characters shoes would go through.

    Wonderful post! I can't wait to know you and your work better. ;)

  8. Thanks, ML. And thank you again for thinking of me. That is sweet--your offering of writing to give back to your mom. I know it was this crazy-wonderful common ground that my mom and I had.

    lol...I'm glad there is no rule about run-ons! lol...

    Thank you for encouraging words about the premise. I only hope that when it's finished, the quality of the writing lives up to the possibility of the story. :-)

    This has been a fun writing exercise--and a good way for writers to reach out to other writers. :-)