Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On Writing CLARITY

First off, CLARITY comes out one week from today! ZOMG, freak out, happy dance!

Now that that’s out of the way…back to the post.

Last month I talked about The Idea Factory and how writers can find inspiration almost anywhere. Today, I’m going to specifically detail how CLARITY came to be! (Note: there are details below, but no real spoilers. Nothing you wouldn’t learn from the book’s summary and the first two chapters.)

Some ideas come to you fully formed. In one flash of inspiration you have the characters, setting, plot, everything.

CLARITY was not one of these ideas.

No, CLARITY came from me playing my favorite game: come up with characters you love and adore, and then figure out the most fitting ways to torture them.

But let me first step back to the initial moment of inspiration. It was one line.* It came to me out of blue in a sort of snarky, sarcastic voice. (And, no, I wasn’t talking to myself! Jeez! Me? Snarky and sarcastic? Never!) I started wondering who would say something like that and why. And I came up with this teenage girl and her family of “freaks.”

I immediately knew I wanted to set the book in a tourist town where the psychics ran a family business out of their home. This was inspired by…seeing psychic family businesses run out of homes in tourist towns. Brilliant! Anyway, I also quickly decided to set the story on Cape Cod. (Mainly because of all the time I’ve spent there, but I’m going to go further into the how and why in a future blog post on settings.)

So I filled the characters out and gave them some complexity, strengths, and flaws.

Clare is tough, defensive and uses words like bullets. After years of being the bullied outcast “freak girl” in town, her hard outer layer is the shield she uses to protect herself. But underneath she wants the same things any girl wants. And she loves her mother and brother LIKE WHOA. Even when they bicker.

Starla, the matriarch of the clan, looks like a free-spirited hippie on the outside, but she takes the family business very seriously. She may not be the strongest person at times, but she loves her children more than anything on earth.

Perry, Clare’s brother, is a lovable man-whore. He goes through tourist girls like disposable paper cups, but he is a loyal best friend, would do anything to protect his little sister, and steps up to the plate as man of the house when he’s needed.

Okay, I love these characters. Time to torture them.

I threw a dead body in because that’s how I roll. And then I had Clare pulled into the murder investigation, forced to use her gift and to interact with the ex-boyfriend she wants to hate and a new guy with a built-in conflict of his own.

Then, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Her brother becomes the main suspect.

The rest of the plot grew from that. At each twist and turn I asked myself, what’s the worst thing that could happen now? And then I did it. Oh, those poor characters. I torture because I love.

And that’s how CLARITY was conceived, grew, and is now one week from being released into the wild!

*The one line that started it all is now the last line of chapter two. Also, this was my original title of the novel. I thought it was fresh, snarky and BRILLIANT. Then my editor said it kind of reminded her of the circus and I was like…crap on a stick, she’s right. That’s one of the many reasons editors rule. They stop you from giving your un-circus books circus-y titles.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Clarity #2

Just a quick post because I can share the title of the second CLARITY book!





What do you think?

You can add it to your Goodreads shelf here! http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9396162

Monday, February 14, 2011

On Character Names

I thought it might be cool to talk about how I came up with the names of my main characters in CLARITY.

For most characters, I flip through the white pages for last name inspiration and baby name websites for first names. But for main characters, I put more time and intention into it.

For example, for CLARITY, I knew I wanted my main character’s last name to be short and punchy—like her. I went with the name “Fern” because, like the plant, she looks delicate but is actually quite hardy. :)

Part of the Ferns’ family dynamic is that Starla, the mother, leans toward the strange and her kids sometimes just want to be normal. So it made sense to me that Starla would give them unusual names. And they’d just go by more “normal” nicknames.

The boy was always Periwinkle “Perry” Fern. I worked backwards with this one. I picked the nickname first—Perry—and searched for an unusual name that could be a longer version of that.

My main character was originally called Andromeda “Andie” Fern. ("Andromeda" because I’m an astronomy buff and I like the name. "Andie" because I think it's a girl's name that's both cute and tough at the same time.) But I suddenly needed a new title. Something suggestive of Andie’s gift. My friend and I pored through words in an online thesaurus and “clarity” stuck out. I thought…that’s a cool word. It’s evocative, a bit mysterious, and speaks to my main character’s ability. So with the title change, came a name change.

And Clarity “Clare” Fern was born!

Friday, February 04, 2011

My Giant Pre-Order Thank You

UPDATE: This contest is closed. About half the swag packs were mailed earlier in the week, the other half are being mailed today. Random.org has calculated a winner for the Mega prize and that is...


Emily - your swag pack already went out. The mega prize will come separately. Congrats!

Why is this called a “thank you”? Why not a contest or a giveaway?

Because everyone wins.

Pre-order Clarity from your favorite bookseller and I will send you a Kim Thanks You For Being Awesome Swag Pack (I should trademark that title). This includes: a signed bookplate for you to stick in the book, a signed bookmark, and a Clarity sticker!

But, since contests are fun, one entry will be chosen at random to win The Mega Thank You (wow, an even better title). This includes: a signed, super special* Clarity hardcover, a signed bookmark, a Clarity sticker, Cape Cod touristy gifts, a $10 iTunes Gift Card to go with the Clarity playlist, and…a handwritten note containing the first line of sequel.

*I realize it’s kind of weird to give a copy of Clarity as a prize to someone who…bought Clarity, but this one is special. I will sign it and mark it up throughout so it will truly be one of a kind. I’ll underline my favorite passages. Circle the passage I wish I could edit out but it’s too late. Include little secrets in the margins like where certain names came from and what real places inspired my fictional settings. There will be lots of cool notes! And then you can give the copy you pre-ordered to a friend and she’ll think you’re awesome. So there’s that.

How to enter:

It’s easy. Just pre-order Clarity from your favorite bookseller – Indiebound, Amazon, B&N, Borders, The Book Depository, etc. -- and email the e-receipt to me at [redacted]. I will then mail you your swag pack and enter you for the Mega Thank You. (This is the only way to enter/receive a swag pack. I can’t go by the honor system on this one. I need the receipt.)

International peeps can enter to win the Mega Thank You, but the “everyone wins” swag packs are for U.S. only, sorry. The postage is going to kill me enough as it is. ;)

Contest ends 2/11/11. Note: I may have to close the contest earlier if I run out of swag!

Thank you! And please pass this on!