From Indiebound: Hailee Richardson never realized how much she hated her Salvation Army life and Goodwill accessories until the night her family wins the lottery. All of a sudden she’s no longer the only girl at school without a cell phone or a brand-new bike! And the newfound popularity that comes with being a lottery winner is just what she’s always dreamed of. But the glow of her smartphone and fancy new clothes wears off when Hailee is transferred to Magnolia Academy, a private school. All of a sudden, her best friend and parents seem shabby compared to the beautiful Magnolia moms and the popular bad-girl Nikki, who seems to want to be her friend. Now, Hailee wants nothing more than to grow up-and away-from her old life. It’ll take one very busy social networking page, a stolen first kiss, and a whole carton of eggs for Hailee to realize that not all luck is good, not all change is bad, and a best friend who’s just a call away will always be more valuable than a phone.
Danette stopped by to talk about her writing process, share the secrets of a writer’s purse, and give away an ARC of the new book. Take it away, Danette!
For me, the writing of a story almost always begins with voice, a voice so strong that it carries with it the gender, age, location, and disposition of the character. All I have to do then is think of what could be the worst thing that could happen to that character. If the voice is strong enough, I can drop the character into any situation and know how she’ll react. That’s where the real work begins: finding the right situation to exploit the voice in my head.
While I was in line edits for Me & Jack, I got hit by this image of two girls and a bike. Not just a snapshot image, it was like a short video of an old memory. The girls were in a driveway. I saw lots of trees, and it was that kind of warm/chilly day you get in spring. The main character had just convinced her reluctant best friend to let her ride her new bike (a new bike, and it wasn’t even her birthday!) by agreeing to pay a dollar and a pack of Smarties. As the MC rides away from her friend’s shouted instructions and warnings, she feels as free as the honeysuckle air wafting under her nose, yet she can’t help but compare her friend’s flashy new bike to her own embarrassing old red boy bike, bought for three dollars at a garage sale last year.
The image of these two girls was so strong, I picked up a scrap of paper and wrote down the main character’s viewpoint of that scene, dialogue and all. The words flowed like water from the tap. Other thoughts popped up over the next few days and I wrote them all down. Later, I nixed some of them and expanded others, but what remained were those first words spoken by twelve-year-old Hailee Richardson, owner of the red boy bike. She didn’t know it then, but her whole life was about to change.
The first three chapters are available on my website. If you compare them to the scrap below—and if you can decipher my scratchy writing!—you’ll see that the first few published pages don’t differ much from the first scrappy words spoken by my then-nameless main character.
Now that you know the inside story, why not try your own luck. Leave a comment below and you may win an advanced reader’s copy of the novel, due on shelves Sept. 4.