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Archive for May, 2013

Just completed the final edits before my debut novel, Peggy Sue Got Pregnant: A Rock ’n’ Roll Love Story (see last post), goes to press. And as a writer of nonfiction for more than 20 years, I want to say that creating imaginary worlds is not for sissies.

      As they say in Cleveland: To live in this town, you gotta be tough. And if you’re a fiction writer in whatever town, you gotta not only be tough, but diligent and creative. And produce interesting characters, and write great dialogue, and keep the plot moving, and structure it well, and make readers laugh, and cry, and get angry, and surprise them, and make them care about what happens next, and  . . . have it all make sense.

     You see, the truth about fiction is this: Just because you’re making things up doesn’t mean you can just . . . well, make things up.

      It must bear the element of truth. That means being true to the era of which you write, the historical events, and how people respond to various events in their lives. Which all comes down to one thing.

       Emotion.  You must get the reader emotionally involved.

      The reader wants to care about the characters and what happens to them. They want to be a part of the story. To take a break from reality.  Isn’t that why we all read? We want to be transported to another place, another time.

       I often tell my students that one of the coolest things about being a writer is that you can take your characters and scenes in your head—and if you do it right—transplant them into someone else’s brain.

      Cool? Yes. Easy? Not so much.

       And actually, the same goes for nonfiction writers as well.  Those writers, however, must create inside the box, sticking to facts. Yet even when you color outside the lines, it better be good art.

        Now that I’m a “trans-genre,” as I like to call myself, I will say that whether you write truth or fantasy, you still need to ask yourself when writing, “Who Cares?” If only you do, best hit the delete key. 

       And that folks, is the literary truth.

Peggy Sue Got Pregnant: A Rock ’n’ Roll Love Story is set for release on June 19, 2013.

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Well, nothing like having a new book coming out to get you back to blogging. . . .

One of my New Years’ resolutions (yes, I realize it’s now May) was to resurrect this blog, and do some guest blogging as well. I love reading about what others are working on, and keeping current with all things writer focused.

So here’s a promise to you (which is better than a promise to me—too easy to break!). Beginning today, I’ll be blogging here the first Thursday of each month. And sometimes, when life isn’t too crazy, I’ll throw in a bonus one in between. I’ll share some good information on all topics for writers, as well as do some fun Q & A’s with authors about their books and the writing process. We’re in this together, folks, and it’s terrific when we share knowledge and experiences.

I begin with a Blog Chain. This is a great idea for those who want to be a part of the wide, wide world of authors—and also for readers, who want to know what writers are up to. I thank my friend, Barb McDowell (who has a great blog: http://barbaramcdowell.net/ ) for introducing me to it. Here are the details for those who want to participate:

*This is a blog chain that originates from She Writes. Each writer answers a series of interview questions and posts them on their blog or website while also linking to five other writers. Those writers then answer the questions, post and include links to five other writers and so on and so on. If you happen to fall short of five, just run with who you have.*

Except for the first question, the answers below apply to my debut novel, Peggy Sue Got Pregnant: A Rock ’n’ Roll Love Story, to be released next month— Just in time to add to your Summer Reading List!

Okay, here we go.

What is the working title of your book?  Titles are always a major decision. And I think it’s important to have one at the start of a new book, even knowing it can change in the end. I’m currently working on the sequel to Peggy Sue (a novel that takes readers through the ’50s, ’60s & ’70s). I’ve settled, for now, Scoundrels and Dreamers, because we all know some of each.  Also, many times our dreams don’t always pan out.  And sometimes, that’s a good thing.

Where did the idea come from for the book?  As a longtime pop culture/rock ’n’ roll writer who always wanted to write fiction, I knew to stay true to what I’m known for—and what I’m passionate about. I used the old “what if” questions pertaining to a young ’50s girl who gets pregnant by a boy set for stardom, and—as it was back then—gets “sent away.” From there, the book and many characters were off and running.

What genre does your book fall under? After googling “rock and roll novels” early on, I kind of knew I was in trouble. Not a huge genre. (Though I’ve always been an outside-the-box kinda girl.) Yet, although it has a lot of rock/pop references, it is definitely women’s fiction, which deals with many women’s issues. It is also romantic suspense because there is romance (Peggy Sue falls in love again after losing her first big love) and suspense (someone threatens to ruin her life, as well as her family’s, with knowledge of her secret).  

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I saw one photo of Frances McDormand that looked fairly close to the Peggy Sue I imagine. However, for some reason I’m unable to include the image. (Aww, computers!) And Zooey Dechanel looks much like I envision her best friend, Libby.

Although the boy who gets her pregnant, Frankie London, is only in the book in the first few chapters, he certainly is integral to the story since he’s Peggy Sue’s first love. Since this takes place in the late ’50s, we’d need an actor who can look the part of a Eddie Cochran-type guy. I can see Ewan McGregor in that part. Just darken his hair a bit more, bring down a lock of hair on his forehead and strap a guitar on him. 

 As for Billy Mercury, the deejay Peggy Sue later falls for, we need a handsome guy who looks like he could be a cool disc jockey, as well as romantic hero. Who else but Jon Bon Jovi! And he does have acting experience. He also has that baby face, which always makes the ladies swoon. Perfect!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? The story of an ill-fated love affair between a Southern boy and Midwestern girl, and a long-held secret that threatens the legacy of a beloved music icon and his illegitimate child.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  This one will be published by an independent traditional publisher out of New York, Soul Mate Publishing. I like the fact that in addition to publishing all types of romance and women’s fiction, they’re open to books that merge genres, which fits this book perfectly, and great for authors who like to “write outside the box.”

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  Because it was my first venture into fiction (I’ve been a nonfiction writer for more than 20 years), it took nearly two years. Then almost another year for revisions, which includes putting the manuscript in a drawer for 5 months to let it “rest,” so I can read it with a fresh perspective (try it, it works!).  After the complete revisions, I sent it to Soul Mate. They in turn, sent me a contract. Always a good day when that happens.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  My inspirations are wide and varied. After reading tons of nonfiction books on pop culture of the ’50s through the ’70s (and beyond), I thought it’d be fun to take those historic times, weave in fictional characters with real problems of that era. I was encouraged as I saw more and more media attention to that time period—demonstrated by popular movies like Forrest Gump, and The Help, and two terrific movies titled simply, The ’60s and The ’70s.  I also watched old movies, in particular, Susan Slade and A Summer Place, that took you right back to that era. Then, of course, the Mad Men TV series, which convinced me there’s a real interest in that era. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  The characters. The more I wrote, the more alive they became. These are not cookie-cutter characters. They are human, make dumb mistakes, and yet . . . . well, you’ll see.  All I’ll say at this point is, I liked them enough to take them on more journeys through the ’80s and ’90s and why I’m writing a sequel.

Next week, I should have the links to blogs of other writers who will be participating. (Working on that, but hey, it’s the first Thursday of the month and got to get this posted – because I promised you!).

Deanna Adams is a writer, conference coordinator, speaker, instructor, and author of three nonfiction books, including Rock ’n’ Roll and the Cleveland Connection, and Confessions of a Not-So-Good-Catholic Girl.”  Her debut novel is Peggy Sue Got Pregnant: A Rock ’n’ Roll Love Story.

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