make new friends but keep the old

Yay, the chapter outline for book seven is done! It’s 30 pages of fun times and I am buzzing like neon with excitement over this book. To clarify, this is not the chapter outline for Keep Holding On. Keep Holding On is my new book coming out next year. I should be able to share the cover and synopsis with you soon. Please stay tuned! So yeah, now I’m writing the novel that will be out in 2013. Seven books later and I still get that same excited/nervous/scared feeling I always get when I’m starting a new book. Reliable turmoil.

Some of you have asked me about my writing process. Do you have to write a chapter outline before you begin? No, you do not. I know several authors who never outline. There are lots of ways to approach writing a book. The important thing is to do what works for you. I like to get to know my characters really well before I start writing a new book. I also like to know where they’re going. That’s why I spent a few weeks on character development and outlining before I even began writing the first chapter. It’s kind of like getting to know new friends. Does this mean I stick to the chapter outline entirely? No, it does not. The outline is always changing, evolving, and growing as I write. My characters reveal more of themselves to me as the story progresses. Unexpected plot turns arise. When I’m in the zone, sometimes my characters even take over. They start saying and doing things I never would have seen coming. Seriously, I’ll be writing a scene and suddenly a character will take over the keyboard and I’ll be like, No she didn’t! But she totally did.

These new characters I’ve been developing are speaking to me in all sorts of ways. “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” by The Cars was playing in my head for like a week. I know it will play a key role in this book. I’m not sure how yet, but it will. Now it’s “Endless Summer Nights” by Richard Marx. How embarrassing is it to admit that I played that tape so many times in junior high it wore out? Pretty freaking embarrassing. Whatever. I still love that song. Mainly because it is awesome. This book is demanding that I listen exclusively to 80s music, so it’s pretty much all 80s all the time around here these days. Again, not something I saw coming, but it’s important to go with the flow!

I thought about starting a master list of characters’ names when I was writing When It Happens. But then I thought there was no way I’d ever forget the names I used. That would be like forgetting old friends! So I never made a list. Then the other day I was looking over the names I’m using for this new book and I couldn’t remember if I used one of them before. Dude. I’m forgetting minor characters’ names. Of my own characters! That’s crazy. Or I’ll see a new quote from one of my books pop on on Goodreads and I’ll be all, I wrote that? I never thought it would be possible to forget my own lines. But here we are! Looks like it’s time for that master list of names. Which reminds me of that make new friends song we used to sing in Girl Scouts. Do they still sing those old-school songs? Or is everything updated now?

Speaking of making new friends, this Thursday is the first day of school here in New York. Just because I’m not going back doesn’t mean I’m any less excited about fresh school supplies. Hot back-to-school gear I’m stoked about: Pilot FriXion erasable pens.

Pilot FriXion erasable pens

Their smooth gel ink slicks over paper, then erases completely with friction. Back in the day, erasable pens used to write all lumpy and would never erase all the way. And they only came in boring colors. Not anymore! I’m currently obsessed with the orange one (saving the pink and purple for later).

For all my friendly teen neighbors out there: Whether you’re going back to school this week or have been back for a while, keep that fresh year feeling going for as long as you can. It’s full of possibility. This could be your best year ever. Show them who you are. Work it. OWN it!


18 thoughts on “make new friends but keep the old

  1. Those pens look awesome!! I LOVE gel pens…and now you’re telling me I can get one that erases??? For real?? I must go get…. 🙂

  2. Congrats on your planning! I’m usually a panster but now in my revision stage, decided to do a plot analysis and character grids and actually found it really fun & it definately helps to stay focused. No one was more surprised than me:) Can’t wait to read a book filled with 80s music-YAY!

  3. Today is my first day of A’Levels in a new school, and i have to say that i am not stoked about it. The whole making new friends, yeah, i don’t know how to. Need like major help in that department.
    Oh, its 7:05 am. Better get to getting ready…

    • I hope you had a good first day! First days were always super traumatic for me. I couldn’t get to sleep the night before and I was so nervous in the morning that I couldn’t eat breakfast and my stomach would growl all through second period. And I didn’t really make any new friends. I pretty much hung out with the same crowd for years. But I’m hoping things will be MUCH better for you than they were for me!

  4. Yay for finishing the chapter outline for book seven! You are a machine! 🙂

    Ah, Richard Marx. I admit that back in the day, I thought his songs “Right Here Waiting” and “Now and Forever” were pretty damn romantic. This may make you think of Richard Marx in a totally different light. I think it’s great that he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. I hope you find this video funny and not gross. 😛

    I’m not one of those people who goes crazy about school supplies, but those erasable pens are pretty tempting. I may have to stop by Staples this week and pick some up. Orange is my favorite color, so I was happy to hear that you’re currently obsessed with the orange pen. I remember the blue erasable pens from back in the day that weren’t that great. These look so much cooler.

    • Hilarious! I cannot get over how different RM looks without all that hair. Seriously, I wouldn’t even recognize him walking down the street now.

      Those horrible blue and black erasable pens from back in the day were the worst. My pens have to write smoothly with full, rich ink for me to be happy. Those pens had such blotchy ink – blah! You will LOVE the orange. I keep erasing in awe.

  5. Love hearing about your newest book adventures! Here’s a secret: Whenever Miranda and I are feeling a little unmotivated with our writing– which is like, 80% of the time –we always read your books to feel all giddy about the writing process again. So then we’re all like, “OMG. This is just too good. WHY DOES SHE MAKE IT LOOK SO EASY?!” And then we try and write again even though we’re always thinking, “How does she do it??!??!!” So props to you for being so efficient and awesome.

    • Ha! That is hilarious. I am always reading other people’s books and thinking, “How do they DO it? So smooth, so expressive!” My work is always severely lacking in comparison. But hey, we press on because we have to. Because that’s what we do. I’m happy that you guys find ways to get that giddy feeling back 🙂

  6. The 80’s are my life. haha. What? Well, no, I didn’t live through them or anything but the movies and songs from the 80’s are just so much better. Anyway, everytime I read your books, I get in this super thoughtful mood and want to write a novel right then and there. I love writing and readng your books made me love it even more. (I ❤ James from Take Me There. Just saying.) Stay golden. 🙂


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