Endings and letting go

Today in my sixth grade class we finished reading aloud the book Zen and the Art of Faking it by Jordan Sonnenblick.  He’s among my favorite YA authors and this book is audible-laughing-hilarious, yet I was surprised by how my students reacted to the ending.

“I don’t like it,” said one.
“I’m not satisfied,” said another.
“That’s it?” cried a few

I needed clarification – this was a book that every day received a chorus of “just one more chapter!  Please!”  A book that I caught them discussing in the hall, on the playground, and during dismissal.

Why didn’t they like the ending?

Because it was an end. 

When I asked for more details they were quick to tell me:
“I wanted more.”
“I’m just sad that it ended.”
“There’s a sequel, right?”
“Can we write the author and tell him to write a sequel?”
“I want to know about San in high school.  Does he make the basketball team?  Does he ever become ELL?”

In short, even though they would admit that the plot was resolved and there was closure – they wanted more.

And isn’t that the trademark of a great book; when you don’t want to give up the characters after the last page? 

Dreaming of Dreams

Wake by Lisa McMann is one of those books I can’t get out of my mind.  I haven’t been sleeping much lately and as I lie awake, I wonder what dreams the normal sleepers in my house are having.   Judging from Janie’s experiences with dreams, I think I’d rather not know!

The format of this book really matches the plot.  The book is written with very little description, it is almost all dialogue and action, which makes it a fast read and also matches the pacing and intensity of the book.  I thought this format was especially effective and I loved the premise.  Imagine if someone could see your dreams… yikes! 

This is a book that is just waiting to be optioned for a film – it would make an excellent movie.  Just check out the video trailer at McMann’s website to see what I mean : http://lisamcmann.com/

I can’t wait for Fade… not too much longer until February 10th.


Why writing a novel is like building an addition…

Both of these things are taking up much of my time and attention right now.   We are currently putting a major addition on our Victorian home and I am also in the last-last stages of revisions before sending out queries on my YA novel FLASH.

Both are wholly consuming in mind-trapping ways and cause you to focus on them to the exclusion of other less important things… like, say, laundry or remembering to buy pet food (sorry Biscotti and Bruschi!).. 

In each of these instances, you’ve built ideas in your mind – whole new worlds and rooms.  I’ve got big plans for our new master suite and bigger plans for FLASH.  It’s the process of getting the ideas out of my mind and into reality that’s trickier. 

The hardest part is trying to decide where to start.  In the addition, we’re not doing any actual construction, but there are so many decisions we need to make.  Colors, flooring, fixtures, set up, windows… And with FLASH, where to start writing?  Do I have to write the book in order?  Would Tessa really say that?  What’s the hero’s motivation?  Colors and conflicts are the things that keep me up at night.

In some ways, it’s easier to transfer my ideas to reality with the novel.  I can take the world I’ve built in my head and record it on paper – often the hardest part is keeping my fingers moving as fast as my brain.

It’s harder with the addition.  I’ve spent 10 hours this weekend trying to find the tile that I can see so clearly in my mind, but that doesn’t apparently exist in any actual tile store.  Bringing my mental image of our bathroom-to-be to life is constrained by available materials – sigh!

Maybe I’ll give my heroine my dream bathroom so that it will still exist somewhere – even if it’s not in my house.

Wish me luck and patience in both of these endeavors.