The summer of 2010, six women decided to join together and accomplish the goal. The goal was for each women to write an 80k novel between June 25, 2010 and November 25, 2010. The group used Google Wave as their major communication tool, using it to make updates, share excerpts of WIPs, hold monthly whine fests, get advice, and receive encouragement and inspiration through the journey. Life got in the way–a lot, but ultimately, each woman learned a few things while riding out this journey…
Shonell Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, and her 5-star debut solo novel, Death at the Double Inkwell is now available for purchase. Shonell also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shonell’s writings at her official website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shonell is busy editing, promoting her debut project, writing screenplays, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.
Sometimes life is stranger than fiction; take the lives of mystery novelists and twins, Jovan Parham-Anderson and Cheyenne Parham. They are young, beautiful, talented, and on their way to their sixth best-selling novel; that is, until Jo learns her husband, Cordell Anderson, founder of Anderson Technologies, is having an affair with Alisha Stewart, his right hand at Anderson. Before she can confront him, tragedy strikes her home, and Jovan must deal with the fact that the careful, safe life she had with Cordell was merely smoke and mirrors.
What is writing to you?
“Writing is turning one’s worst moments into money.” ~ J. P. Donleavy
Perhaps, but writing is also turning one’s worst moments into great reads for readers and personal understanding for the writer. I’ve written many stories that began from a “worst moment” in my life. Because writing has always been so cathartic to me, it seemed natural that I would weave my real-life angst into creative fodder. In writing stories, I can explore the whys and hows of my situation through characters, allowing me to take a step back from the situation and see things from another perspective. Every good story starts with a conflict, and if I can develop a story that satisfies readers while working through my “worst moments,” then to me that’s a win-win situation.
Why did you agree to be a part of the GWave Writing Journey?
I began pursuit of my Ph.D. in August 2009, and my creative writing took a major back seat. I wrote during the 2009 NaNoWriMo, but I knew that particular piece of writing would never be something I would go back to. I was ready to really get into a project and write something that truly mattered to me. And I knew the only way I could do it while also doing the 50-11 other things in my life would be to have other people working with me and holding myself accountable to them.
How did friendship and sisterhood help/hinder your writing during the journey?
Because of the friendship, of the sisterhood, I finished. This was bigger than me and my story. I fail me all the time, but I hardly ever fail others and because I started this with five other women who were attempting to do the same, I knew I had to keep on keeping on. They inspired me to keep on; their friendship enabled me to keep on.
How did the use of GWave help facilitate conversation amongst the group during the journey?
Needless to say, I’m sad that GWave is phasing out. I LOVE it. I’m sure there are other spaces that do what GWave does, but I really liked the format and structure and our ability to hold group chats, to save chats, to send a group documents and attachments and create threads for different lines of conversations. At any one time, I was in one thread reading someone’s excerpt and making comments, in another thread asking a sisterfriend about TV news advice for my story, and in another thread in a gripe session. It was nice to move across threads to seamlessly.
What were some of the successes and or pitfalls that occurred for you during the writing journey?
Actually, there weren’t many pitfalls. I was very busy with academic work over the summer, yet I got the writing done. When the fall semester kicked in, I thought I would be writing less, but I actually wrote more and finished my 80k weeks early and finished the book at about 92k before the deadline. The success truly came from two places: my girls from the GWave Writing Journey and from those people on Twitter and Facebook who encouraged me to push it and get the writing done. The experience allowed me to see that if I focus myself, I can get the job done. And considering this is the first book I’ve ever written without an outline, this achievement is even more important for me.
What did you learn about yourself through the writing journey? As person and as writer?
As a person, I’ve learned to not doubt myself. At times, I would mentally add up all the things I had to do in my life and kept saying things like, “I HOPE I get my writing done,” instead of telling myself I could get it done. It was a lot of work, but once I got into a groove, I realized that I could do it and get everything else done, too.
As a writer, I learned that I could write a book without an outline. I started with characters and the first two, three chapters outlined–and even those chapters didn’t get written as outlined, LOL Although I learned I could write without the net, I also learned that I don’t like that way too much! LOL I like my outline and the freedom it gives me. Writing without a net gave me way too much freedom and there were days where I sat, wondering what I would write and where I would go instead of having the footprint of an outline to help me.
Well, supposedly, you wrote during this journey…what do you plan to do with what you’ve written?
Well, I wrote a sequel to my book Death at the Double Inkwell. Book two is titled Into the Web. I’m planning a Double Inkwell series featuring my twin mystery novelists and sleuths, Jovan Parham and Cheyenne Parham. I was done revising but computer crashed before all the revisions could be saved, so I’m back to revising again. Hope to be done that within the next two weeks. From there, I plan to submit it to my publisher and see what happens next. I loved DDIW, and it excites me that I actually love Into the Web more. I hope it’s as good to others as it is to me!
From Into the Web
Chapter One ~ October 21
Those words rang in Jovan Parham’s mind as she danced around the ring, staring into the eyes of Derryck, her kickboxing trainer.
“Come on, Jo,” Derryck said while holding up his padded hands. “Pay attention. Jab left, cross right, jab right.”
“I’m doing it,” she said, her voice nearing a whine.
“You look lazy.” Derryck’s left hand made its way to Jovan’s headgear. She just managed to move, but heard the sound of his fist whizzing by her face. “I haven’t tagged your face in nearly four months.”
Jovan smiled and took two jabs to the side of Derryck’s face; the second one connected.
“And you didn’t get me this time either,” she replied.
The two continued to spar, sharing words and punches and kicks, but Jovan’s mind was still stuck on two words: take down.
She woke up in the middle of the night after a horrific nightmare, one she had almost every month since she moved into her new condo a year ago. The nightmare was always the same: she watching as a host of characters took part in killing her. She lay, shackled to a metal table, dressed in a white loose gown that had been ripped to shreds. Every few minutes, someone would come into the dimly lit room and cut her with a sharp, curved blade. No words were ever exchanged. She screamed with each flick of the blade, begged for her life, but it was all for naught. Cordell came in and took a chunk of her. As did his mother. As did his brother. Alisha took her share as well, as did Sarah, which broke her heart more than Cordell wanting to kill her. She had thought Sarah was her best friend. Finding out she had slept with Cordell and carried his child tore at her heart. To know that even in her nightmares Sarah wanted to hurt her more nearly broke her.
The last person to come in was always Linda Hayes. And unlike the others, who were more like automatons, coming to do their robotic bidding, Linda had a sparkle in her eyes, a curl of her lip, and extra dig of her cut when she took her swipe of Jovan. She had hoped that her time at the altar during service that morning, where she begged God, begged him to remove the nightmares, might give her a night of respite, but it wasn’t to be. If she actually took time to think about it, she’d realize that her continuous thinking about them would only create more of them.
When she woke up last night from the nightmare, Jovan rushed to her office—a place that held warm, soft thoughts for her as it was the place where words took to life. She reached for the small blue bible she kept on the desk and rifled through the pages before landing her finger on Luke 10:19, I have given you authority …to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
The words brought her peace, but she had an even better way of using her authority to overcome her enemies. She took out a pad and pen, and spent a good hour creating a list of people she needed to take down.
Linda Hayes was at the top of that list. For going on two years, the Trés Chic head reporter-now executive producer had been relentless in her pursuit to find something bad to report about Jovan. Even after everyone else had put the murder of Jovan’s husband and the fallout of it behind them, Linda was determined to continue to bring up Jovan’s painful story: Cordell’s murder. Cordell’s affair with Alisha. Cordell’s affair with Sarah. The baby Sarah carried. The complex scheming and plotting that revealed Cordell’s drugged-out brother was supposed to kill Jovan but instead killed Cordell. Jovan’s reaching out to Mark, Sarah’s husband, in a time of need and the subsequent relationship that continued long after Cordell was buried. The justice (though not peace) that was brought to Jovan and her family.
In all parts of the world, Jovan’s soap opera of a life had come and gone as new, crazier stories unfolded. But in Baltimore, where she and her twin Cheyenne were deemed stars for their bestselling-authors status and their charities, Jovan’s story continued to live—mostly thanks to Linda Hayes.
And somehow, she had managed to overcome her anger at Linda and this ferocious, tenacious need Linda had to break her down.
But then yesterday arrived, and Jovan became undone.
She had tried to go about her day. She went to a speaking engagement for her solo inspirational non-fiction, Picking up the Pieces, a book that detailed the story of her life with Cordell and the aftermath. She met with Cheyenne to work on the outline of their next mystery, Vanishing Keys. She even got ready to meet Mark for a dinner date down at the Inner Harbor.
Not once did anyone in her inner circle mention the significance of the day: the second anniversary of Cordell’s death. They knew it wasn’t needed. They knew Jovan would have stayed up the entire night prior, still crying over the loss, still angry over the betrayal, still unsteady on what to do with her life. She was still fragile from the coming and going of Cordell’s birthday nearly three weeks ago. She had spent that day in quiet reflection, wondering why, yet again, she couldn’t find out about Cordell’s lies before anyone had to die. She still felt like an idiot over believing Sarah was her friend. She had spent hours talking to Sarah, telling her about the decline in her marriage—never realizing that her supposed friend was sleeping with her husband.
Any normal person, knowing what she’d been through, would have given Jovan this day to grieve, to feel, to think in her own personal space.
But not Linda Hayes.
Jovan had expected to hear from her. After all, she saw commercials regarding Linda’s anniversary special. Linda had her assistant call her earlier in the month, trying to get her to talk about Cordell on the day of his birthday. Jovan had told her to “Go read Picking Up the Pieces if you’re so damn interested in learning what I’m willing to say about Cordell. Other than that, leave me the hell alone, Miss Hayes.” It was only a matter of time that Linda would call her again, trying to get some comment to use for her latest special.