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Amazing Secret Project

For the past six weeks, I have been writing something new. It's something I was hired by a publisher to write--something super fun that will be published in August 2012. It's a derivative work. Think something along the lines of this:

Except I will share authorship credit on the cover. (Trivia: sci fi veteran Alan Dean Foster actually ghostwrote the novelization pictured above.)

Let me state now for the skimmers that I am not writing a Star Wars novel. The photo above is just an example (and happens to be a book I treasured when I was ten years old).

But this project is very, very cool, I promise.

I am having the time of my life writing it and have learned a ton about both myself and writing as I've worked. 

First, since it's a derivative work, I have an incredibly detailed outline with which to work. What I have found is that this has not been the limitation you might think it to be. I actually have a ton of leeway within the outline for my own creative expression. Because the creators of the original work are gracious collaborators, they have been enthusiastic about the new things I have brought to enhance and enrich their story.

Precisely because the original outline is so structured, I have found a huge amount of freedom and energy for creativity. It reminds me of that analogy that Madeleine L'Engle makes in the beginning of A Wrinkle in Time about the strictures of sonnet writing. The form gives you freedom. This is something I have been learning over the past couple of years, but this project has really hammered the lesson home: I will never write without a solid outline again.

Second, this is a project with a very quick turnaround time. Someone unacquainted with how publishing with a major house works might think that since the publication date is sometime next August, that I would have tons of time to complete the writing.

Not so. The publisher needs the finished novel by February 1st in order to get it into the book production pipeline. That means that I need to have a polished draft to the original authors by January 1st so that they can review what I've written and we can make any changes necessary. That means that I need to have a very good draft ready for my few trusted beta readers by the day after Christmas. These brave and generous souls have agreed to read my manuscript very quickly and point out any flaws they find so that I can incorporate their feedback in those last, dark days of December. That means that I need to be DONE by Friday, December 23rd, due to the simple fact that my family needs me attentive and relaxed over Christmas weekend.

Writing a 70,000-word book in 8 weeks is something of a challenge. That is really, really fast. Oh, I know you have all heard about those intrepid souls who pump out 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo--and I respect that achievement. But these 70,000 words need to be a very polished, near-final draft--not the raw first draft that a NaNo participant finds herself with at the end of November.

But I have learned that I can do this. Amazing things have dropped into my way to help me, like this post by Rachel Aaron--which built beautifully on what I learned and described in this post. Granted, I'm not producing 10,000 words per day. With six kids--one still at home during the day--I don't have the 6-7 hours of time that Rachel has to do so. Someday.

But I have been far more productive than ever before.  Yesterday I set a new personal record, writing over 7,000 words. I also had time to feed and interact with my family, study scriptures, tidy the house, do laundry, go to breakfast with two fun friends, and read several chapters of a fun mystery novel. I have learned that I can write like a maniac and still have a life. A really great life, in point of fact.

Last, I've learned that I can keep a secret. When I was first asked to be a part of this project, I was so excited that I wanted to shout it to the heavens--or at least post about it on every form of social media known to man. NOT doing so these last six weeks has been difficult! But all shall be revealed very shortly. In fact, I apologize for this post. I know it is akin to my taunting you about how wonderful your Christmas presents are going to be. I know something cool, and you do not--yet. But you will. Stay tuned, faithful friends. Stay tuned.

Reader Comments (12)

So excited and happy for you! Can't wait to see the reveal of the secret project!

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany W.

This is SO cool, Luisa! I'm so happy for you! Also, if you want one more Beta Reader, you KNOW I'm in - I actually have reading time available now, and I'm always SO thirsty for Perkins writing - derivative or not.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Woo hoo! To:
• Getting to tell
• Writing something that you KNOW will see the light of day
• Successfully writing a ton
• Your name on the cover
Also to:
• Alan Dean Foster. I loved _Star Wars_ and _Splinter of the Mind's Eye_.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLee Ann

I am so proud of you, for so many reasons, that I could just bust! You've pushed past Resistance so many times, and you're now being blessed for it. I love how this experience is helping you grow as an author, and can't wait to read not just this book, but the many others that will be influenced for the good because of what you're learning now.


December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

Awesome! This is perfect and I can't wait to hear more! I am so, so happy for you!

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenna Consolo

Great news, Luisa! I can't wait to hear more. I'm so happy you've got everything balanced and that you're doing what you love!!!

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Treasured the same copy. Except I was 12, And I took it to Boy Scout Camp.

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Yay, yay, yay!!!!

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette

Congratulations, Luisa! Honestly, it doesn't surprise me at all that you're cranking out 7k in a day and writing a derivative work because you're FREAKING AMAZING! But I am surprised that you've kept such a great secret!!! I can't wait to hear all about it! Yay! Congrats! Congrats!

December 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterL.T. Elliot

Dude. Do you know what I just realized? I haven't been putting in the captcha code at the end of your posts when I comment so all of my comments that I've been writing HAVEN'T been posting! GRRRR! I didn't even think to double check until this last time. =[ I'm sorry, Luisa.

December 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterL.T. Elliot

wow, that's an amazing achievement! I saw on twitter you were writing lots but I had no idea that you were under such tight time pressure. And you are guarenteed to get published , fantastic!!!

December 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergoofball


That's very exciting, Luisa. Congratulations!

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTh.

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