The Struggle Is Real

Things have been crazy busy in my world, which is everything I ever hoped for – when it comes to my writing journey.

Losing Brave is set to release on January 30th. Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket continues to do well. I’m co-writing my first non-fiction book with an extraordinary teen and it will be ready to query in the next month. I just finished the first draft of a brand new for-hire film script. I am contracted to write another and I have one that I’ve been playing around with for a while that’s tumbling around in my head and eventually gets a bit of work done on it.

Trust me – all of that is heaven for me! So encouraging, and it gets my creative juices flowing. But, just as in everything else, there are always road bumps and disappointments.

  • I’ve been working on a trilogy for going on five years. FIVE YEARS! I work on it here and there, and have completed the first two books but a recent conversation with an acquisitions editor has left me putting that one on the back burner. The genre isn’t selling right now, so publishers aren’t taking submissions from the genre. BUMMER! It’s difficult to put your heart and soul into something you truly believe in and realize that it won’t have a life – at least not any time soon.
  • My three indie-published books (Salvaged, Rise, Collision) have been pulled from the market due to the publishing company’s alleged fraud.
  • Two film scripts that I rewrote (for-hire) are sitting on the shelf. Great projects, but the film industry is a tough one.
  • A television project that I’ve been working on, and was moving full steam ahead, seems to have stalled a bit. Or a lot. I can’t tell. My hopes were high and the disappointment is real.

The creative part of me loves working on all kinds of different projects. The business part of me despises being dependent on others to help bring those projects to life. But isn’t that how it always is? Birth requires just the right timing and environment and I’ve learned (the painful way) to trust the process even when it doesn’t seem to look so good.

As writers, all we can do is keep writing. Keep telling stories. Keep giving birth to those characters that like to wake us up in the middle of the night and ask us to come out and play. And I’m often reminding myself to go back to that place where there wasn’t any pressure. I was just telling stories. It was fun and the process was an escape.

So – I’m pouring my free time into a novel that I’ve been wanting to write for a while but it just hadn’t fully developed in my mind – until last week.

As I laid in bed one night, the full story revealed itself. I pulled out my phone, opened my Scrivener app and had the major chapters outlined and summarized in a matter of minutes. This has never – and I mean, never – happened to me before. A story usually doesn’t reveal itself to me until I sit down and start typing. I never know what’s going to happen until the moment it appears on the computer screen. It’s been a fun difference, but I fully expect changes to come and new surprises around every corner.

Writing is such an odd, yet wonderful thing. With it come highs and lows – and life lessons galore. Lessons that we can turn around and teach our characters, because as you know – all life is story material!

My encouragement for all of you – hang in there. Keep writing. Don’t give up.

Believe.

Always believe.

 

Pre-order your copy of Losing Brave today and receive it on your doorstep release day!

The Process of Co-Writing ‘Losing Brave’

A FaceTime brainstorming chat.

“How did you two write together when you don’t live near one another?”

It’s a great question that we get asked all the time so I thought I’d dive into a bit of the behind-the-scenes for how Bailee and I co-wrote the book.

I suppose that we were lucky in that neither one of us had co-written a novel before so we didn’t really know if there was a “right” way to do it. We had to just wing it, and wing it we did!

The first step of any writing project is brainstorming concepts, characters, story lines and even scenes. Bailee and I were able to do a lot of that over the phone or via FaceTime. We would also text each other when we had an idea out of the blue and since Bailee works a lot of odd hours on set, my phone would go off at all hours of the day and night but I loved every second of it.

Bailee and I were blessed to have a few opportunities to spend time together face to face. First, we met back in Nantucket when Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket was featured in the Nantucket Film Festival. We made the most of our few days together and brainstormed scenes, created characters and laid out a lot of great content that eventually found it’s way into the novel.

Stefne, Bailee and Patti in Nantucket for the Nantucket Film Festival

I also traveled to Toronto in December of 2016 and spent ten days with her while she was working on “Good Witch”.  When she wasn’t on set, we were in her trailer working on the story. Once we were home for the night, we’d order takeout, sit down and work some more.

In case you’re wondering – Toronto is freezing in December!

For the most part it involved a lot of e-mailing pages back and forth and giving and receiving input. Luckily, we were so much on the same page with what we wanted the story to be, there weren’t many disagreements. Or if one of us had an idea that we loved but just didn’t fit – we found another way to work it in. Or – we saved it. You never know, it might work for a different project. 🙂

The collaboration process was not only fun, but I think it was a learning opportunity for both us. We learned a lot about ourselves and about how to work as a team, fight for what you want and compromise. All great life lessons.

If you have a question that you would like answered, head over to my “Contact” page and fill out the form! I’d love to answer your questions – and maybe get Bailee to help!

 

Pre-order your copy of Losing Brave today and receive it on your doorstep release day!

Why Bailee Madison and I Wrote ‘Losing Brave’ Together

Our daily drive to the Annabelle Hooper set with Bailee, Patti (B’s mom), Stefne, Mavrick and Dawn (Mav’s mom)

One of the questions that Bailee and I are asked most often is how we came to a place of writing a novel together. So, I thought I’d take a moment to share the story with you.

Bailee and I started a friendship several years ago. She was reading a novel that I’d written and liked it enough to reach out to me on Twitter.  After a brief conversation over Twitter DM’s, we spoke for a few hours on the phone that evening and really hit it off. We had very similar ideas when it came to the types of projects we wanted to create and vowed to stay in contact. I even traveled to Florida to spend a few days with Bailee and her mother, Patti to discuss project ideas.

Bailee and Stefne first meet- March 2014

When the time came for Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket to go into pre-production, as one of the producers for the project, Bailee suggested that they bring me on board to rewrite/age up the script. Excited for the chance to work on my first film project and to work alongside Bailee, I jumped at the opportunity. In a matter of only a few short months I’d reworked the script and was on my way to Nantucket for the shoot.

A typical morning drive to the Annabelle Hooper set with Bailee and Patti.

Although it was hectic and our time together was mostly in the car on the way to the next location or home for the night, Bailee and I continually talked about creating other projects together. During one of those chats, I floated the idea of co-writing a novel together and shared a general story idea that had been rolling through my mind for several years.

Bailee and Stefne in Toronto – 2016

Luckily, Bailee loved the idea and the starting story concepts for Losing Brave were born. Once we returned back to our very different “normal” lives, we continued the process and eventually Blink YA signed on to publish the story.

Bailee and I believe that everything happens for a reason and God brings people into your life for a purpose. Our friendship and love of story are proof that we were brought together for a reason and one of those reasons was to tell the story of Payton Brave.

We can’t wait for you to read it!

Pre-order your copy of Losing Brave today and receive it on your doorstep release day!

Losing Brave – The Audio Book

Ready to record!

Do you have any idea what goes in to creating an audio book version of a novel?

Yeah, neither did we!

We have been so blessed throughout this entire Losing Brave journey and one of those blessings was the opportunity for Bailee to read for the audio book. It is rare for authors to read for their own audio versions but we couldn’t pass it up.

Although it was a long and grueling process, Bailee knocked it out of the park! On three separate days, and for eight hours each day, Bailee sat in a sound booth and read from the manuscript. I watched via live feed from my home in Oklahoma.

The process is incredibly intentional in the way it was done. Bailee had to read at a rate that was slow enough to be easily understood, but fast enough so as not to allow the story to drag. Each time there was an error, the producer would back the audio up by two seconds and Bailee would jump back in at the right time.

Bailee in the audio recording booth

It was wonderful to have the opportunity to hear the story read back to me, but even Bailee was able to enjoy the story as she so carefully read the manuscript. When you’re writing and editing a novel, you get so wrapped up in the details that you lose sight of the project as a whole. While Bailee and I have loved every step of the process and our love for the story never waived, it was a beautiful thing to read it as a whole and fall in love with it all over again.

Even after all of those long hours, and a sore throat on Bailee’s part, we walked away more in love with the story than ever and anxious for it to be out. As soon as we finished we wanted to get to work on a movie script and even considered writing a prequel – just so we wouldn’t have to say goodbye to the characters that we love so much.

We fully believe that reading the novel will be a great experience, and hearing it will only make the story come to life even more!

Pre-order your copy of Losing Brave today and receive it on your doorstep release day! You can also pre-order the audio version.

Losing Brave, Meet The American Library Association

Stefne Miller and Bailee Madison at ALA.

When you’re a writer, you dream about the day that your book will be born and enter the world, and while you’re dreaming away you can’t help but stumble into the American Library Association Convention.

It is a HUGE event that takes place every year. An opportunity for every publishing company imaginable to display not only their books, but their authors. The space is gargantuan, books are everywhere and there are so many people in attendance that it’s difficult to move – but it’s oh, so amazing!

Blink YA booth at ALA

This year, Bailee and I were honored to not only be invited to attend the convention in Chicago, but to also sign and give-away over one hundred books to the wonderful librarians who waited in line to get their copy.

We anticipated the event for months and then ran in to a snag. Bailee was on location filming and with weather causing havoc on the shoot, they were behind schedule. Behind schedule meant that Bailee’s call times were less certain. The closer the event got, the less and less it looked like Bailee would be able to join us for such a wonderful event.

Stefne Miller, Bailee Madison and McCall Hoyle at ALA in Chicago

Luckily, the day of the convention, Bailee was given a break long enough to allow her to rush to the airport, jump on a one hour flight and arrive thirty minutes before our signing. As soon as the signing was finished, she jumped right back into the car, returned to the airport, jumped on another plane and was on location that evening.

What a trooper!

The Blink YA page in the ALA Program and Directory

Just those few minutes talking to librarians from all over the country was worth the struggle and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to share Losing Brave with them.

Thanks to Blink YA/Harper Collins and the American Library Association for having us!

One of the best ways to get Losing Brave into the hands of more readers is for the novel to stock library shelves so be sure that you ask your local and school libraries to order copies.

If you make a request and your librarian orders a copy, leave me a note on the “Contact” page so we can give you both a shoutout!

Pre-order your copy of Losing Brave today and receive it on your doorstep release day!