Wednesday, June 18, 2014

DREAM BOY blog tour: What's Your Dream?

Today I'm happy to be part of the What's Your Dream blog tour, in which we help announce the about-to-be-released DREAM BOY by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg. This novel comes out July 1, so be sure to preorder it or put it on your to-read lists!

As per the tour, we tell a dream we recently had, or a recurring dream. Here's mine:
Helicopter whirring in the sky, looming. Feeling of dread. Loudspeaker blares from the helicopter. "Carol Pritchett…Carol Pritchett." It's commanding me to show myself. But I hide, ducking behind corners and angles of buildings. If they see me, the dark men aboard will shoot me with their machineguns. I dart from one building to another, fearing they've spotted me. The helicopter chops the air with its blades, flying overhead around the buildings, persistent in their hunt. "Carol Pritchett. Carol Pritchett!" I wake up with a yucky feeling in my mouth and a tight feeling in my chest.

Whew. I must've been feeling stressed to dream that. Pritchett was my maiden name. Go figure why the helicopter dudes shouted that…I haven't been a Pritchett for 31 years!

If dreams can come true…then so can nightmares.

One night Annabelle dreams of the perfect boy: tall and handsome with impossible blue eyes. Then, just as suddenly as he appeared, he’s gone…until he walks into her science class the next day. Perfect and REAL. The boy of her dreams. And when he brushes past her, he whispers “Annabelle.” Suddenly, Annabelle’s got the perfect boyfriend and a date to homecoming. Her life is like a dream come true—until her dreams stop and the nightmares begin.

"Hits the chick-lit and romance buttons, adding suspense and an intriguing idea as well for nicely rounded entertainment." --Kirkus Review

Not "just" a chick-lit story, which some people equate with a light, shallow read. This novel has depth, with lots to think about regarding our dreams (nighttime as well as daytime types), the subconscious, and the often blurry line between our desires and our realities. The dialogue and characters were intriguing as well as amusing; I cackled and laughed out loud OFTEN while reading this book! Delightful—5 stars!

Madelyn is on the left, Mary is on the right!
Mary Crockett likes turtles, licorice, and the Yankees. Madelyn Rosenberg likes cats, avocados, and the Red Sox. Luckily they both like the weirdness of dreams (and each other) enough to write novels together. The friendship has survived three moves, six kids and countless manuscript revisions. Madelyn lives just outside of Washington, D.C. Mary remains in the mountains near their hometowns in southwestern Virginia. You can find them on Twitter @marylovesbooks and @madrosenberg. Or visit their blogs at  and


Do you have a recurring dream, or have you had a particularly vivid dream lately?
Do you like magical realism/contemporary fantasy type stories? If so, this book is for you!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Where Do Writers Get New Ideas?

I'm at a strange point in my writing life. Since I wrote THE BODY INSTITUTE, which became my debut for January 2015, I've written three other novels. Eventually (um, hopefully) I'll be working on at least one of these with my agent, but what about brand new shiny ideas? I confess at this point I don't have any sparks or plans for new books. Now there's a totally ungrounded, unsettled feeling.

Where do we as writers get new ideas? How do we get out of that state of mind where we think of possible ideas but just as fast, we discard them as boring, cliché, too convoluted, or shallow? Well, I guess we keep jotting them down until one of them grabs us by the lapels and doesn't let go. Here are some ways I can think of to generate initial story ideas.

1. Read newspaper or online articles. I'm talking NON-fiction, here. What about that article you read about the girl everyone thought was missing for 15 years—what really happened to her? What about that fascinating new scientific or technological discovery? You could spin a plot from intriguing things like auras, telekinesis, time travel, alternate histories, or synesthesia (a mixing of the senses, for instance perceiving numbers as certain colors). Do a random online search or wander your local library, and see what you come up with!

2. Read other books, and "research." No, I don't mean ripping off other writers' ideas or being derivative. Reading can make you aware of what's already out there, so you can make sure your book is different and unique. Reading can also often send you off on a tangent toward fresh and innovative ideas. It can inspire you.

3. Read something you don't normally read. Switch it up. If you usually read sci-fi and fantasy, try reading a contemporary novel. If you usually stick to YA or MG, try reading an adult novel. You can even thumb through picture books in the children's section of a bookstore or a library. Some random gem of an idea might just catch your eye, something you can develop into a full-blown short story or novel.

4. Refresh an old idea with a new twist. Rummage through that file or folder that holds all your "failed" or shelved storylines—you know the one. Check to see if you can't breathe new life into these stories by changing the plot, adding a spicy character, writing it from a different character's point of view, or making that unsellable dystopian into a sci-fi novel. Warp those genres. Mix and match plotlines. Try quirky new settings.

5. Try your hand at a retelling. Don't slavishly copy a folk tale or an existing children's book. Make it your own. Toss it into a totally different time period, such as the 1996 movie Romeo & Juliet, which takes place in a modern, urban setting. Or like Marissa Meyer's CINDER, which tells the tale of Cinderella as a sci-fi tale involving a cyborg as the main character.

6. Find new WAYS of telling a story. THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak involves Death as the narrator. Very unique. Jay Asher's 13 REASONS WHY involves tapes sent to 13 people to reveal the reasons why a girl committed suicide. Experiment with points of view. Do something in a way that's never been done before. Be creative!

7. Mine your dreams. Write down half-remembered dreams. Develop that recurring nightmare. Explore that mysterious place between your waking and non-waking worlds. Use your subconscious snippets, form them into a plotline, and have fun populating these worlds with intriguing characters.

Have you ever found yourself in this position, without a clue as to what you'll write next?
Which of these methods catches your attention the most, the one you'd like to try?
Where do you find YOUR story ideas?