A blog about the amazing things teenagers do, about writing for teens, books for teens, and occasional forays into my world and the world of publishing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Online Now! Witness the Birth of a Novel--Cayman Summmer

Yesterday I heard a story about a woman who had "unfriended" one of her best friends on Facebook because that friend had put up some rather graphic pictures of herself in the midst of childbirth.

I've given birth four times so I know firsthand that childbirth is a beautiful, natural and, lets face it... a MESSY process. Not something I would share on Facebook. (My kids would die of mortification if pictures like that existed anyway.)

Most people are aware that childbirth is messy, and most people probably wouldn't share graphic pictures of that process with the world. But what you may not be aware of, the birth of a novel can be just as messy (okay, with less blood).

So I was in shock and awe when my fellow author, mentor, and sister-in-law, Angela Morrison, decided to let the world in on such a private moment...the birth of her novel.

CAYMAN SUMMER--the third book in the TAKEN BY STORM series I reviewed on Wednesday--is going up bit by bit on Angela's devoted CAYMAN SUMMER Blog. She's holding nothing back. You get to see free-writes and handwritten notes, poems and dive logs. Each piece is formed and brought forth--wide eyed and blinking--into the world.

Not only is Angela throwing the doors open for everyone to view this process, she's allowing and even welcoming criticism and comments about her new baby. Honestly, I don't have that much courage.

Writing in serial isn't a new idea. Charles Dickens did it. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did it. Even Stephen King and Orson Scott have done it. Magazine and newspaper serials were how many great 19th century novelists got their start. Now with e-books and the Internet, it's happening again, but Angela's take on the idea may be unique. She isn't presenting CAYMAN SUMMER as a complete work--serialized into segments. She's presenting it as a "work in progress" and allowing everyone to be a part of that progress.

My hat is off to Angela. I have to revise a chapter 3 or 4 times to take it to my critique group, actually posting it raw and asking for comments would be too hard for my delicate ego to take.

For anyone tackling the writing process, I would encourage you to stop by Angela's CAYMAN SUMMER Blog. Poke around, read the writing, check out the rough drafts, browse the comments, leave your own comments, feed the fish, (that's one of my favorite parts!), and learn. Angela has an MFA from the prestigious Vermont College of Fine Arts. She's an excellent writer and a great teacher. I owe so much of my writing ability to her mentoring. You'll learn a lot from watching her process unfold. And it's encouraging to know that even great writers make mistakes and have to revise.

For everyone else, I'd encourage you to visit the site and READ because it's a GREAT story. (And did I mention it's fun to feed the fish? Just hover over them with the mouse and then click and they eat the little virtual food pellets. How cool is that?)

I'm not going to miss a post because I love watching the process and...well...I'm dying to know what happens to Michael and Leesie. (And I like to visit the fish.)

So fellow writers...I want to know, how many of you would be brave enough to post the birth of your novel this way?


  1. Brave or crazy? Thanks for this great post, Jen. I wouldn't be writing CAYMAN SUMMER without the supportive community of readers and bloggers who have embraced my books. This last book is for them. I want them there helping with the birth. Messy as it is. We all need midwives and nurses, right?

  2. Yes, this is risky on many levels, and brave of Angela to tackle. Good luck to her! It will be fascinating to watch.

  3. Wow, this is great. I bet Angela will learn more from this journey than she will ever be able to express. Good for you and thanks for the post. I'm heading over now to watch along :)

  4. Angela is brave, but very talented. It would be down right stupid for me to attempt such a thing, but so far she has both impressed me with her deeply emotional writing skills and left me wanting more. I have visited her sight every day (and I didn't know there were fish to feed).

    I don't think this vehicle would work for everyone. This is Angela's 3rd book of a series and she has an enthusiastic following. I appreciate her openness. I'm hoping to learn much from it, as I already have.

    And Jen, what was up with the child birth story? EWWWW. (I'm her older sister, so I can be critical!)

  5. I not only wouldn't be that brave, I wouldn't be able to follow through. I'd have a great couple of weeks of posting and then I'd trail off, and pretty soon, I'd be back in my garret, writing in solitude, and my fans would be left in the lurch.

    But, Kudos to Angela. It's great that she can pull this off and educate people about the process.

  6. I love what Angela is doing, it's gutsy. I also like that it shows exactly how challenging writing a novel is. It's not for wimps.