Friday, June 12, 2009

Writing Journey: Part XVIII

Catch up on the rest of this series HERE.

After publishing that military wives article, the topic wouldn't go away. I had pages and pages of thoughts and feelings and events these five women had poured their souls into. I felt as if they'd let me into a corner of their hearts and lives. It was an honor that a mere 1200 words didn't do justice to.

It just wasn't enough. I had to do more with it. I was driven to do more. Other people needed to understand what deployment was like for those at home. I hadn't had a clue until I interviewed these remarkable women.

Maybe I could write a longer version of the article and sell it to a bigger magazine, I thought. But even that didn't quite sit right. I wasn't sure what I should do, but I had to do something.

About that time, I had difficult moment during a Christmas Enrichment night. I ended up in the lobby feeling a bit sorry for myself, and what happened over the next few minutes turned on my writer brain.

I suddenly had an entire scene about a woman, Brenda, going through a deep depression during the Christmas season while her husband was deployed. The entire scene unfolded in my head and demanded to be written.

Keep in mind, I was still researching the Vernal Temple and fully expecting to write novel about that, although no story was really popping out at me yet. Finding one was sure taking a long time (I had a few elements floating around my brain, but nothing really solid yet), but I wasn't in panic mode. The story would come, I figured. It always does.

But Brenda's scene itched to be written. It wasn't the beginning of a story. If anything, it belonged somewhere in the middle of a book. But I sat down and wrote it.

Since I'd recently submitted Tower, I had nothing else to read at our weekly critique group meetings, so I brought that scene.

In no uncertain terms, they told me, "You have to write this book."

On one hand, I was flattered. But on the other . . . what about the whole temple series thing? Well, maybe I could do both.

I kept researching Vernal and writing this deployment book on the side. I ended up with five different women whose lives come together when their husbands are deployed together. Each has her own stage of life, her own weaknesses and trials. The story went into their friendships and support of one another. The result was something unlike anything I'd written before, something that not only shows a glimpse of deployment but also what real female friendships are about.

But when it was more than half done, I still had no story about Vernal.

It was late spring when my trusty editor Kirk told me that first of all, Tower was accepted for publication. (Yay!) But then he said the committee was asking me to do something else after that . . . something not temple-related. They thought maybe the temple series idea had run its course now that I'd done all four of the old Utah temples.

I was taken aback, because I'd had plans for Mesa, Alberta, Hawaii, Nauvoo . . . but okay, I'll put the Vernal book on the shelf and let it gather dust.

But then Kirk asked if I had any ideas for writing something else.

And I had to smile. Because not only did I have an idea, I almost had another book ready. Something that sort of spilled out of me.

I told him about the deployment manuscript. It's not a romance, I told him. It's not a historical. It's "women's fiction." And it's not remotely like anything I've done before. But I love it.

Kirk thought the idea was great and very timely and asked how quickly I could get it to him.

I bit my lip and wondered just how fast I could get it to him.

I made a leap. "By Halloween?"


Shauna said...

Hey woman! I got the book! Thank You so much! I will let you know when I post about it. Hope you have a super weekend! ♥ HUGS ♥

An Ordinary Mom said...

I knew it ... after reading your last Writing Journey post it just made sense that you HAD to write this story! It sounds very intriguing. I have a friend whose husband is currently deployed, and a lot of us always seem to say the wrong thing to her because we can't even begin to fathom what she is going through. This book will be a gem to many!

Although I still would love to read some more Temple books.

(And just out of curiosity, have you been feeling better since your isolation time in the lobby during the Christmas season? I hope all is well. I think we all have moments like that ... probably on a daily basis.)

Jennie said...

My daughter endured multiple deployments and finally got her husband back after he was seriously wounded. Without a draft, most people are so far removed from the war they really don't know what military families go through. Good luck with your new book.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Wow. I'm just so relieved you had something else on the go when the Temple series got put on the shelf like that. Would've been more of a blow otherwise, yes?

Can't wait to hear more about this new book. I'm already itching to read it.

Kristina P. said...

How exciting! I am definitely looking forward to reading it!

Unknown said...

Amazing how that worked out...definitely not a coincidence, either, if you ask me.

This new book sounds wonderful...I'm very excited to read it!

Melanie Jacobson said...

I hand sold Tower of Strength to the owner of our local independent book store today. Maybe she'll sell it to others, yes?

Melissa Cunningham said...

Congratulations! Don't you just love it when things happen like that! I am so happy for you.

I can't wait to read the new book!

If you need any info, my nephew is deployed in Afghanistan and his wife and three kids are at home on Oregon. He's in special forces and It's been tough.

LeeAnn said...

I read your article and loved it. So many things I had not thought much about lately although I remember thinking my sister's lot was harder when her husband was deployed in Iraq and mine was home every weekend.

I hate using a comment to advertise something, but there is a tool (not mine) that is available to help husbands and wives that have been or are deployed. My sister and her husband have taught classes to returning Utah National Guard personnel to help them come home. See for a product geared specifically to them. There is an audio on the front page of their website that is totally free too. If military personnel or wives contact them, they are usually happy to talk to them to help.

Mikki said...

This is getting good!
Wow, this sounds really good. Can't wait til you release it, I'd love to read it.

Anonymous said...

You're queen of the cliffhanger. You know that, right? And I've been gone for a while! *grumble, grumble* I'll wait. But I don't have to like it. =]

Amber Lynae said...

I just finally went back and read all of your past Writing Journey posts. Its inspirational and very insightful for a person who is just starting their own. Thanks for sharing, I look forward to your next installment.


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