Okay, it’s official. I signed up for NaNoWriMo, which starts in (shudders in fear) three days. And I figured that if I wrote about the book here, it would make it even officialer and I wouldn’t be able to back out of it. At least not without a lot of shame.
I did NaNoWriMo in 2014 and technically “won” (wrote my 50,000 words), but I didn’t come anywhere close to finishing my book. And by the time I finished NaNo I was feeling less than confident that I should be finishing the book because I felt pretty stuck.
But I’m not giving up!! I’m back for more torture … fun. I meant fun. I decided to participate in Beautiful Books 2016 (which is hosted by Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In) and I’m answering their questions here! (Though I’m switching the order slightly.)
Describe what your novel is about!
When 11-year-old Annalaine’s two best friends, Owen and Keeley, move away, she’s devastated. But her loneliness doesn’t last long. Annalaine discovers a mysterious door behind the park hedges that leads to a strange but beautiful garden … and Owen and Keeley, even though they live hundreds of miles away.
Of course, Annalaine doesn’t need new friends when she can keep the old, so she’s not particularly interested when Piper moves in next door. And she certainly isn’t going to risk exposing the Meeting Spot to Piper (or anyone else)—not once she learns that doing so will make it disappear forever. But balancing adventures in the Meeting Spot and life in the real world is tougher than Annalaine ever imagined, and she finds that she just might need to make room in her life for new friends after all.
What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I was inspired to write this book by the fact that ALL of my neighborhood friends (five families worth!) moved away the summer before I went into 6th grade. I was devastated and lonely, and how cool would it have been if there had been some sort of magical doorway that allowed me to play with them every day even though they’d moved?!
I’ve also been inspired by my own kids in many ways. 🙂
This book has been percolating in my mind for the past several years. I wrote the outline for it a year or two ago.
What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
See my Pinterest board. It’s filled with super fun fantastical garden images!
Introduce us to each of your characters!
Annalaine is a sensitive, cheerful and imaginative eleven-year-old girl. She’s a people-pleaser and the peace-keeper in her little trio of friends. She’s not a fan of change, so when her friends move away, it’s very difficult for her.
Owen is artistic and creative. He sees himself as a performer and likes to be the center of attention.
Keeley is a little spitfire of a girl. She’s courageous, pretty, fun and outlandish and a bit of a tomboy.
Matthew is Annalaine’s seven-year-old brother. He’s adorable, and Annalaine loves him to pieces, but he can be a little bit of a pest, as little brothers are known for. He is obsessed with bugs and can spout off LOTS of facts about them!
Piper is a bit … quirky. She’s incredibly intelligent, but she talks loud and fast and doesn’t always pick up on social cues, so she can be a little overwhelming at times. Piper gets made fun of sometimes, and Annalaine wants to stand up for her, but she finds it hard to be brave and step into conflict.
How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
For my last NaNo project, I had a vague idea of the story and that was about it. It didn’t go so well. This time, I have a much more solid plan, including an actual outline of each of the chapters. I’m sure this plan will change somewhat, but I’ve got a really strong basis to start with.
What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
The Meeting Spot itself!
List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
The novel will take place in Annalaine’s neighborhood (and sometimes at her school) and in the magical world of The Meeting Spot.
The Meeting Spot itself (as a place) is somewhat inspired by The Secret Garden. I picture it as a somewhat more fantastical version of that garden, with lots of color and fancy hedges and such, even though there’s no one (obvious) there to upkeep it).
Both the “real” world and The Meeting Spot will have some elements of danger.
What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
Annalaine’s goal is to avoid losing her two best friends! The distance between them (after Own and Keeley both move) stands in her way.
How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Annalaine learns to stand up for herself and her friends more. She also learns the value of letting new people into her life.
What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
I actually haven’t completely decided how the book is going to end yet. I have a couple of different possible endings planned. But, in the end, I want to show that sometimes we need to move on and accept loss—but that doesn’t mean forgetting the people you’ve left behind.
UPDATE: If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo as well, feel free to add me as a writing buddy! My username is nmhewitt.
So, what do you think of my NaNoWriMo 2016 book idea? Are you planning to participate in NaNo this year? I want to know!
Oh, I like the sound of this one! I didn’t officially sign up for Nano, but I’m thinking of “unofficially” trying to do it anyway. I have the VERY beginning of a new book written, and some ideas of where I want it to go, so even if I didn’t hit the 50k by the end of November, it would still be a really good motivator to get writing more!
You should sign up anyway! Even if you don’t hit your 50,000 word goal, it’s really encouraging to be a part of NaNo and be writing along with a lot of other people. Just make a smaller goal in your head and go for that. I say, go for it!
I love this idea! It sounds like an awesome book! I remember as a kid I always like those kinds of books that start in the normal world, but then you get to go through some kind of magic portal to somewhere else (Narnia, for example, or those Enid Blyton books about the Faraway Tree) 🙂
Best of luck with NaNo! This is my first shot at it since 2014 as well, so I really hope with both hit the 50,000 word target! 🙂
Those were my favorite types of books when I was a kid as well, so I guess it’s not surprising that I’m writing one myself. I’d love it if you add me as a writing buddy on NaNo—my username is nmhewitt.
This sounds like a fun read! And I like that you haven’t decided how it ends yet. I always feels like I have to plan down to the tiniest detail when I write something, so I don’t get to have that feeling of discovering the ending as I write very often. But when I DO get to, it’s lots of fun! 🙂
I have a couple of different endings in mind, but I don’t want to commit to one of them yet. I’m going to see how the book develops more before I decide.
This sounds like a fun read and something I would like to read with my daughter. Good luck!
Your book sounds like fun. Good luck with it!
You’ve reminded me that NaNo is starting in two days nnnngh. I participated last year and I wrote like 20k before I realized I have no idea where my story is going. 😀 I may continue it this year, but I don’t think I’ll be writing 50k. And I’d like to have a meeting spot like that in my backyard, because my friends live all over the place and it would be fantastic to be able to see them! Good luck with your novel!!!
Your book sounds great! I’m doing NaNo this year too, for the first time. I’m not afraid at all… hahah…. ah….
Good luck anyway!
I love the idea of this! I don’t read MG primarily anymore, but I used to write for a MG book blog, and I would’ve loved to pick up something like The Meeting Spot. Best of luck with your NaNo novel!
I love the idea behind the event. It’s a great way to get on track. The Meeting Spot sounds like a fun read. I hope you meet your goals for the event.
Good for you! Love the ideas you have and can’t wait to hear more!
I don’t read MG (nothing snobbish about it, it’s just a matter of personal preference), but I’m intrigued by your story. I hope I’ll be able to read it one day. Good luck with Nano and – most of all – have fun!
This sounds like a wonderful idea! I would read it!! I like the themes of loss and having to also be open to new people and experiences. Sounds like you’ve thought it through quite a bit. And I like a bit of magic or fantasy so the idea of the garden is a great one. I’m also curious how (or if) the garden is kept up- that part caught my interest. 🙂
Sounds great! Can’t wait to hear how it goes. Are we writing buddies on the NaNoWriMo site yet? We need to be, if not. My name on the site is Buffywnabe. I love this post! If I had time I’d do it myself! I’m kind of the same with the ending of my story. Haven’t quite figured it all out yet.
I just added you as a buddy. Not sure if it automatically notifies you, but if not, my username is nmhewitt so you can add me!
I’m going to read through all the details after I take my kids to their Halloween parade, but you’re also welcome to join our NaNoWriMo group on FB! https://www.facebook.com/groups/145950165575629/
Thanks! I just joined!
Okay, I got a chance to read everything! You’re so brave to put down in words what you want to write about! I have this superstition that saying what I want to write out loud (or in a blog post) somehow makes it not happen. So I never talk about what I’m writing before I actually write it. 🙂 Looks like you have a good foundation! I’m going into NaNoWriMo totally unprepared but I’ve pantsed books before and I’ll outline along the way as ideas come to me.
Ooh, your story sounds awesome! Good luck writing it (yikes, does it really start tomorrow?), I’m sure you’ll do great!
Best of luck! I am so in awe of all of you NaNoWriMo writers. I love writing, but not fiction. But I love to read fiction, so it makes me a little sad that I am idea-less. But what I really wanted to say is that I think your story sounds terrific, and I am (oddly?) proud of you for committing to writing this month. Have fun!
It’s not odd at all. I’ll take all the pride I can get—I need to store it up now because as soon as I start writing (today!!) I’ll lose my confidence and I’ll need to bank on all of that pride from other people.
This sounds like it will be a fun book! I love stories that have one foot in the magical world and one foot in real life. Good luck, Nicole!
Thanks so much! Day 1 was a success! Now I just need to keep it up!!
I love your idea for a book!! I have SO many awesome memories from my neighborhood friends growing up and I can’t imagine if they all would’ve moved away at the same time!!! That sounds completely awful. I’m doing Nano this year too!! It’s my first time, so we’ll see how this goes. GOOD LUCK to us!!
This book sounds like it would be so much fun to get lost in their world and also something my niece would absolutely love to read!! Wishing you lots of success with writing during NaNo! 🙂
Congrats on joining NaNoWriMo! I did it last year and yes, I “won.” But like you, it wasn’t exactly finished just because I finished my 50,000 words. After that experience, I am just not sure I am cut out for writing. It is such an exhausting process. I admire you for giving it another go. Good luck!
Yay for NaNoWriMo! Your book sounds like a great mg book! This is my second year doing NaNoWriMo and I completed last one in like 2013 I think. I am really excited! My book title is: “The Luna’s Destiny” A Moon Goddess Novel by Drea Shane. It’s my first book under my new pen name and my first shifter book! Good luck on reaching your goal! ???
New bloglovin follower. ?
Congrats on participating this year!! (whispers….it’s my first year participating and I am failing miserably!!!)
Your story sounds interesting! For some reason, I am getting a The Bridge to Terabithia feel to it! 🙂