Posts Tagged ‘writing a novel’


It’s been said that it takes more than one person to write a novel, and that is the absolute truth. Beautiful Monster was of course, written by two folks, me and Mimi A. Williams, but what I’m referring to is all the people along the way who have made the book possible and who supported this project. With Beautiful Monster having just been released, it’s hard not to think about the journey, and more importantly, the people who helped make it happen.

I’ve worked very hard for the past several years to make this happen, and now that it’s here, I realize just how many people were a part of it. Since there’s only enough allotted room in any given novel to acknowledge a handful of people, I am writing this now as a way of (hopefully) including everyone who helped this dream become a reality, and to let all of you know that you mattered in making this real.

Thank you to:

Heather ~ for your unending support, your great management skills, your hard work, and the genuine respect you have for mine.

Mimi A. Williams ~ my co-author, for teaching me everything I know about this game, and for staying up with me till the middle of the night on numerous occasions to make sure we got it right. Thank you for creating such wonderful characters who worked so well with my own. Thank you for believing in me enough to put so much of your time and energy into me. None of this would be possible without you. We did it.

Mom ~ for reading Beautiful Monster (and loving it) even though I told you not to.

Kim Johnson ~ for reading, and for telling me when I’d found my voice.

Dawne Dominique ~ for the kindness, the great interview, and the amazing cover art.

Erin Lale ~ for delivering such good news.

Sherrie Hill ~ for being the first person we met when we arrived. Thank you for your style, your charm, your belief in me, and your friendship. Thank you also for handing out the postcards and spreading the word.

Kim Richards ~ for slipping in that ‘yes’ amid the endless sea of ‘no’s.

Tom Brown ~ for reading, for running, and for spurring me on in both.

Lori Clark ~ for the friendship, the interview, and the book review.

Tamara Thorne ~ for the great blurb, the great friendship, and for being a hero who doesn’t disappoint.

David Hansen ~ for being around after all these years, and for showing me New Orleans, and always knowing who I was.

Todd Tapper ~ for your great sense of humor about what you do, and for the invaluable information you gave us. You didn’t bat an eye, no matter how silly (or morbid) the question.

Sally Franklin Christie ~ for your great marketing.

Karina Fabian ~ for your kindness, support, and for trying to help me get into the chat room.

Roberta Antunez ~ for your keen eye, your hard work, and your support.

Everyone at Damnation Books ~ for your great support, and for seeing something in us.

The Fiend ~ for surprising me with your existence and taking Beautiful Monster to a better place.

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Also, I would like to give thanks to some people for their genuine support and enthusiasm, and for the inspiration and guidance they’ve given me.

Thank you to:

Holly Malcom ~ for being an amazing reader with an editorial eye that could put the best the shame.

Dayle Sant ~ for your support and your knowledge of the English language.

Marlene Anderson ~ for loving The White Room, and wanting more.

Becky Herron ~ for actually reading me… and encouraging me.

Joe Ostler ~ for sharing the passion and the good times.

Pam MacDonald ~ for your investment into our futures.

Annie Valenzuela ~ for your excitement and your encouragement. You have always had the crown, Annie… and you always will! Your enthusiasm has motivated me in wonderful ways. Thank you.

Linda L. Bennett ~ for your unwavering loyalty to me. Thank you for always reading my blog and for leaving me such kind comments.

Care Patton ~ for always telling me to dream, and for introducing me to Kim Williams-Justesen. You’ve pointed me in a lot of directions over the years… and they’ve all been right.

Bradley “Awesome” Newsome ~ for being a great reader and a great guy. Thank you for being the first person who called me your favorite author.

Elizabeth Hamre ~ for finding me, and for reading The Vagina Monologues to me when we ran out of things to talk about. You were there in the beginning of all this. I’ll always remember our talks.

Eva M. Lietz ~ for spreading the word.

Arin MacDonald ~ for showing me New York City through your eyes, and introducing me to even more strange novels, both of which have inspired me greatly.

The folks at Candle Bay (especially Juicy Lucy and Poison Ivy) ~ for giving me an interesting place to stay. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be immortalized. You all gave me some great new ideas.

Anthony Berge ~ for saying I should go for it many, many years before I actually did. You’re a muse.

Tim Campbell ~ for your great art, and for always telling me I could and should do this.

Doug and Sonya Malcom ~ for your constant encouragement, and your help along the way.

Debbie Rocco ~ for all the years of unrestrained imagination, and for wanting to read my books.

Sheryl Thornblad ~ for your support… and for introducing me to the “underground,” where so many of my ideas have come from.

Jamie Thompson ~ for reading my stuff back in the day, when I really, really sucked at it; and because you’ve always been the best personal assistant ever.

Brad Sant ~ for unwittingly giving me “Winter.”

My family ~ for being so supportive. I sincerely appreciate all of your excitement and enthusiasm. All of you have been great readers, brainstorming buddies, and awesome supporters.

All of the great authors who have supported me, encouraged me, and allowed me entrance into your worlds and your minds. You are the ones who made me want to do this in the first place. You are my heroes.

All the players ~ for teaching me beforehand to keep my hands to myself, my feet on the ground, and my eyes on the road.

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Beautiful Monster is now available in eBook format at: http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Monster-ebook/dp/B00948Q0DK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1346686182&sr=8-3&keywords=Jared+S.+Anderson#_ and at: http://www.damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615727742. It will be available in paperback in a few weeks!

 

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With just one month till the release of Beautiful Monster, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, mostly about how all of this came to be. It still feels like a dream to me, and I still expect to wake up any minute. And if it’s real, I’m waiting for something to somehow go wrong. I’ve been anticipating some kind of terrible news for some time now, but so far, things seem to be on track, and the novel is still set to be released on September 1st, one month from now.

There are a lot of things I anticipated when the day came that I finally got a book published… and there are some things I did not anticipate. First on this list of surprises is the speed at which this whole process has moved. I didn’t give much thought to the new age of e-books, and therefore, I figured once I found a publisher, it’d be a good few years before I’d be able to see and hold my own book. As it is now though, the book is set to  be released in both hardcopy and e-book versions in about three months after having been accepted.

I didn’t expect to get a publisher before I got an agent. While I queried just about every agent on (and a few off) the American Continent for The White Room, I did things differently for Beautiful Monster. Because of Monster’s violent and graphic nature, I never expected it to get picked up at all. My co-author and I queried 27 small to mid-sized publishing presses for Monster as opposed to the 157 literary agents I queried for The White Room. My feeling was that The White Room was simply more commercial, and therefore would have a much easier time selling. That hasn’t turned out to be the case at all.

I didn’t expect to be so worried about who might read this book. As I mentioned before, Beautiful Monster is laden with violence, sex, and drug use. And I didn’t skimp on any of the details… nor did I use gentle language to convey these acts. I suppose that because I never expected the novel to find a home, I was much more liberal with my own twisted-ness, but now that it’s going to be a real book, I’m a little bit mortified. Not ashamed… but I do cringe a little whenever someone in my family or someone I know (who isn’t a lover of horror stories) asks me about the book.

I didn’t expect so much support, and the person who surprised me the most was my mother. Not because she isn’t supportive, but because I know that if my own son had written this book, I’d probably be a bit concerned about what the neighbors might think. When the contract was signed, I called my mom (who had read – and actually somehow enjoyed the book) and had a little talk with her in hopes of preparing her for the possible negative side-effects of the situation. I told her that people whom we may not necessarily want to read this book might read it, and there’s nothing I or anyone else can do to stop them. I told her I would very likely be harshly criticized and that a lot of people, even people we love, may not exactly appreciate the wicked and vulgar nature of this story. After prattling off my list of possible unpleasant scenarios, she said, “So what? If they don’t like it, they don’t have to read it. I’m proud of you anyway.” That made my day.

I didn’t expect to make so many new and wonderful friends. Since this book has been picked up, I’ve made the acquaintances of so many other writers, many of whom were my heroes back in the days when I used to read for the sheer enjoyment of it while dreaming that I could one day do this thing. These other writers know exactly where I’m at, and they have all been absolutely wonderful about talking to me, giving me good advice, and letting me know what it was like for them.

Most of all, I didn’t expect that I’d so quickly feel that it was time for the next step. As beginning writers, we all live our lives in terms of, “one day, when I finally get published…” and I didn’t expect that when I finally did, I’d be worried about the next book just a week or two after. The sparkle fades fast, and soon you’re left with the feeling of “So… now what?” … So now, as best as I can guess, I just keep writing the next one. I knew I’d never be content having written only one book (or even just two or three for that matter), but I guess I thought I’d at least take some time off mentally to figuratively roll around nude in my newfound glory. But I never really did. I just started worrying about the next story.

One month to blast off… and here’s what I know: there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow… but as soon as you find it, you just see another rainbow to chase.

 


When I contacted Jack Weyland, asking him if he’d be interested in doing an interview for my blog, he responded to me the very next morning, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner. I’d expected to spend at least a few days worrying over whether or not he’d be interested in this, so I was pleasantly surprised by his quick, kind reply. He has been a successfully published author since I was three years old, and it isn’t every day that you get an e-mail from someone like that, so this was particularly thrilling for me.

Jack Weyland is the author of more than two dozen novels, over fifty short stories, and with his massively popular debut novel, Charly, he is often credited as being largely responsible for the popularization of the modern Latter-day Saint themed fiction genre. Along with a successful career as a novelist, he has spent much of his life as a professor of physics.

For more about Jack, check him out at: http://www.jackweyland.com/

Q: How did people respond when you first told them you wanted to write LDS fiction?

A: One of my English teachers asked, “You’re not serious, are you?” That was certainly a reasonable response since I was a graduate student in physics, had only taken a couple of classes in college that involved creative writing, and certainly had not impressed him with my writing. (For good reason I might add.)

Q: In your novels, we often meet mismatched couples trying to find middle ground despite their personal and extraneous differences. What is it about this theme that interests you?

A: That seems characteristic of most marriages. Husbands and wives often don’t think the same. It’s bridging those differences that brings greater appreciation of each other. And it’s good for their kids. If you can get a husband and a wife to agree on a set of actions for their kids, it’s probably the right choice.

Q: When I read Charly, I admit it… I cried. Was it as emotional for you to write it as it was for us to read it?

A: It was. At the time I was writing Charly, my dad was battling cancer. By the time I finished the book, he had died. My feelings of loss and grief were transferred into the book. I remember one scene, when Charly was near death, where I was crying as I wrote it.

Q: Charly was made into a movie in 2002. How did you feel about that? Were you happy with the movie?

A: Over the years before the movie was made, I had been contacted many times by people who wanted to do a movie of Charly. But for the most part they’d call, we’d talk, and that was the last I ever heard from them. So when Adam Anderegg contacted me, it didn’t occur to me that he might actually do a movie. He did one thing though that none of the others had done. He drove up to Rexburg and took my wife Sherry and me to dinner. So that set him apart from the others! And that was just the beginning. Adam and everyone at Kaleidoscope Pictures did an excellent job! They had me read sample scripts throughout the process of rewriting the script and always asked for my input. I am grateful to them for preserving the story. Janine Gilbert wrote all the versions of the scripts. I am extremely pleased with what she came up with. That’s why I often say that the movie is better than the book.

Q: Adam’s Story is the sequel to Charly and Sam, where we finally get to learn what happened to their only son. When you were writing Charly and Sam, did you know you would one day write Adam’s Story, or was it something you decided to do much later?

A: The thought that I should write about Adam came to me one time when I was watching the movie Charly. I asked myself, “W hat about Adam? What happens to him? How is his life going to be different having had such a remarkable mom as Charly? Or will he even know anything about her?”

Q: When I was in school, I always used to see these kids walking around with books like Charly, Sam, Stephanie, and Kimberly. I also saw a billboard on a freeway for Charly in Salt Lake City a few years back. What does it feel like to have garnered that strong of a response to your work?

A: First of all, we were at that time living in Rapid City, South Dakota when many of my books were published. Few of the people I worked with at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology knew I wrote fiction. Once a year, I’d fly to Utah to sign books. It was like I had a secret life. When I was in South Dakota, writing was my secret identity. When I was in Utah, being a physics professor was my secret identity. So it all worked out! But even then it did occasionally hit me that my writing had touched a lot of lives. I always cherished the letters I received from youth who said my books had helped them with some of their challenges.

Q: Many people have credited you for being largely responsible for the popularization of the LDS Fiction genre. How do you feel about that?

A: lucky! A few weeks before I sent a copy of Charly to Deseret Book, they decided they would start publishing fiction. However, when they read my manuscript, it was painfully apparent it wasn’t good enough to be published, but since for ten years before that time I had several short stories published by The New Era, I had the reputation of being good at revising. So they decided to work with me. For a brief time I was the only fiction writer for Deseret Book! That didn’t last of course. I’m grateful for the experiences I have had as a writer.

Q: What is your writing process like? Do you write outlines beforehand, or do you just find a starting point and go?

A: I’ve done it both ways. When I’m looking for something to write, I often sit down and write dialogue. No descriptions. No plot lines. Just dialogue. It’s like getting to know someone by sitting next to them in a café and listening to them talk (which I also do). Occasionally I realize these fictional characters are interesting people and I should get to know them better. So I start a rough draft, again, mostly dialogue. Here are some novels came from that process: Jake; A New Dawn; As Always, Dave. Some of my books came about when a young woman who’d gone through a difficult experience wrote and asked me to write about her experience I’d hire her as a consultant then built a fictional story around her experience. Here are some in that category: Sara, Whenever I Hear Your Name; Megan; Emily; Brittany; Ashley and Jen.

Q: You are a best-selling author, as well as a professor of physics. Are there any similarities between those two lines of work? And which field of work do you prefer and why?

A: For me the good thing was that physics doesn’t tire me out for writing, and vice versa. They seem to require different parts of my brain. One carry-over for physics is that I wrote silly songs for every physics chapter that made it more fun for the students. The truth is I can write only about two hours a day, so the physics gives me something else to do with my time. Also, I was found that I was able to explain the principles of physics so that anyone can understand. Besides that, physics can be fun! I loved doing demonstrations in class. It’s like bringing a new toy to class every day.

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?

A: Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Neil Simon and David McCullough. Neil Simon especially was a big influence in my life. The decision to write every day came after seeing a Neil Simon play on Broadway while in New York for a physics conference. I decided, “I think I’ll write a Broadway play.” It never occurred to me that seeing a Broadway play isn’t usually considered a preparation for writing a Broadway play. I tried to sell the play with no success and then decided to turn it into a novel. That novel is Charly.

Q: Of all your characters, do you have a favorite, and why is he or she your favorite?

A: Charly. Why? Because my wife Sherry is a convert from New York, just like Charly.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I have written a Dr. Seuss-like Christmas poem called “Gerald Giraffe.” Natassia Scoresby, a talented artist, has illustrated the book. We are in the process of finding a publisher. Also, I am working with Steven Spiel to adapt my novel “A New Dawn” into a stage musical. I have also recently written a novel for married couples. “Heather 101″ can be downloaded from the Deseret Book website. In addition, I have a new self-published novel called “Mackenzie for Congress.” It can be downloaded from Amazon.com

Q: What do you consider the highlight of your writing career?

A: One of the great thrills has been to be in the audience when the movie Charly was being shown. Also, BYU-Idaho once did a comedy stage play of mine called “Jack Weyland’s Home Cooking.” I love to hear people laugh because of something I’ve written. Sherry and I attended every performance of the play.

Q: When you look back on your life, do you feel like your journey as a writer was pre-destined/meant to be?

A: I have no other explanation for what has happened to me than that. It seems so improbable to me even now.

Q: What makes you laugh out loud?

A: That’s not the right question. The right question is what do you most enjoy from your writing. The answer is: to be near Sherry when she is reading one of my manuscripts. I love to hear her laugh!

Q: What is something about yourself that people might be surprised to know?

A: I once had the calling of being the assistant stake bee-keeper in South Dakota. I loved it! It’s a great church calling because you didn’t have to call the bees together and tell them that the month is nearly over and they need to get out there and collect some pollen. Also, nobody came to check up on us when we were in the field with the bees. To this day I love bees!

Q: If you could pass on one piece of wisdom that life has taught you, what would it be?

A: “Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.” (D&C 58: 27-28) It’s good to know that the power is in us to do the things we want to do which may be of some help to someone.


While it’s true that Mimi and I wrote Beautiful Monster with an indeterminate ending, I’m not sure either of us had a sequel in mind, let alone that the storyline would evolve into a trilogy, but God help us, that’s the current plan.

Really this is my fault. It started with a dream I had one night several weeks ago ~ cheesy though that may be. I dreamed that she and I were talking, and she kept making references to “The Beautiful Books.” I even heard each of the titles: “Beautiful Monster,” “Beautiful Liar,” and “Beautiful Damnation.” When I woke up, I didn’t think of this as anything worth giving much thought to, but through a conversation with someone else that I had later in the day, it occurred me that maybe I should approach Mimi with the topic. I knew before I brought it up to her that it wasn’t something I wanted to try and sell her on…  I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea myself. I just wanted to make casual mention of the dream and let her response to it decide whether or not this was worthy of pursuit.

Her response was, “Omigod, we should!” or something along those lines. She started throwing out possible ideas then, and as soon as she told me her vision for the ultimate ending in Beautiful Damnation, I was well-invested. We talked about it in sporadic bursts through e-mail and texts for the next few days, but it wasn’t until we headed to Iowa for the 2012 Iowa Writer’s Conference that we really started mapping the second story out. So, between workshops, lectures, our downtime during the conference, and our travel-time, Mimi and I wrote a chapter by chapter synopsis of the story, and were able to get all but the last two chapters mapped out. Things often evolve in unexpected ways as the story is being written (which is why I don’t usually do real detailed outlines), so I’m interested to see what will end up in the final draft.

My vision for Beautiful Liar is a bit different from its prequel. In this one, I want to take Sterling (my character) out of his element entirely. I want to take everything away from him. I want to see how far he’s willing to go to get what he wants: Brenna (Mimi’s character). And… I want him to suffer ~ not only for the horrible things he did in Beautiful Monster, but also for the horrendous plans he has in the sequel. I don’t plan to give him a single moment of peace this time. He is the bad guy, after all. So, without giving anything away, the plan this time around is to see what he’s really made of, and I’m curious to find out.

We realize we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We barely got a contract signed on the first book and plenty could still go wrong with that ~ unfortunately, it happens ~ so to assume the publisher will be interested in a second (let alone a third) book may seem a little overconfident. Luckily, that’s not why we’re doing it. I know that I want to do this for a few reasons. One, I am not done with Sterling Bronson and I want to see what else he has up his imported-silk sleeves. Second, I want resolution; not only for Sterling, but for Brenna as well. Third, I am in love with this story and really want to see its ultimate ending… and four, I work well with Mimi and am looking forward to doing another project with her. If a publisher never looks at it twice, then it will have been good practice and good times, and really, that’s what this is all about anyway. I admit that I’m not real eager to get back to world through Sterling’s bloodthirsty, crazy eyes, but why not make the most of the opportunity that we’ve been given?

And so it begins. Again. Wish us luck!


As I began the fifth chapter of my third book, I realized I had no idea where my story was going. That is a strange thing to admit, but it’s true. Obviously, I had a rough idea, but that’s all it was… a rough idea, and I’ve learned that, for me, a rough idea is not enough to keep me going. It seems strange that a person would sit down to write a novel with only a vague impression of the outcome, but that’s exactly what I did. Again.

I’ve been through this before, and you’d think I would have learned my lesson. I was taught that as your story is being written, you need to constantly be moving things in the direction of the end. I had my setting down, I knew the characters, I knew the basic premise… but somehow, I had no idea where I was trying to go. This explains why it has taken me so long to get this project going.

One of the most valuable things I learned from my mentor very early on was that I need to know my ending first. This may not be true for every writer, but for me, it’s absolutely essential. Without a known ending, I am like a blind rat in a maze, bumping into things and following dead ends. (It’s just that I get so excited to write new stories and utilize the knowledge I’ve acquired that I forget many of the fundamentals!)

I’ve spent many many hours these past few weeks trying to iron out the wrinkles in this storyline and trying to decide what it is that I am ultimately trying to say, and finally, this morning, I figured it out. My mentor told me to develop my theme. This, all of a sudden, sounded like a foreign term to me, which reminded me just how much of the basics I had forgotten. According to Wikipedia a theme is: “a broad idea, message, or moral of a story. The message may be about life, society, or human nature. Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas and are almost always implied rather than stated explicitly.” Fair enough.

I turned the story over in my head and finally decided that what I’m really trying to say in this current novel is that sometimes, in order to appreciate the people around you, you have to see the profound greatness they’re capable of~ and that good and evil exist all around us at all times, but within all of us is the voice of reason, and the power to do to great things. Sounds good, right? Not really. It’s too complicated and unclear.

So we went a layer deeper. And another layer deeper after that. Finally, I concluded that my theme is this: A human being with faith has as much power as any of God’s angels. Knowing my theme then paved the way for the rest of the story. For the first time since I began writing this book, I have an absolute idea of what I want to say, and how I need to get there. There are still some issues that need a bit more thought, but I finally believe I can sit down and write this book without feeling overwhelmed by the fact that I am completely lost.

If I can do this right, I believe this story could easily be my best one yet. If I do it wrong, however, I think it could easily come off as being amateur, juvenile and an embarrassment to my capabilities. Right now, I can see it going either way. The beauty of writing though, is that you can always re-write, and having a clear vision of where you’re going with a story is the best place to start… even though it isn’t where I started. Again.

On that note, if I had any advice, it would be this: First develop your theme. Know exactly what you want to say. Define it as clearly as possible and then work backwards. Figure out the end… and begin at the beginning, making sure that every move you make along the way leads to that end. This is the most priceless piece of knowledge I was given, and despite my attempts to bypass it, I find myself coming back to it. Again.