A Challenging Look At The Next Big Thing And One Lovely Blog

The title of this post is one big giveaway as to the content. Yep, I’ve been tagged in a couple of challenges and nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award. Let’s start with the award.

The One Lovely Blog Award was presented by inspired2ignite. Thank you so much, Denise! If you haven’t visited her blog yet, please take some time to do so. You won’t be disappointed.

Now here’s an interesting twist. When I first received this award, there were NO rules for how to accept or pass it on. But this current nomination says to acknowledge who nominated me, tell 7 things about myself, and nominate 15 other bloggers. Hmm, guess which option I’m choosing? That’s only because a lot of information will be presented in the two challenges, and I don’t want this post to take on epic proportions. So let’s move on to:

The Next Big Thing Challenge

This challenge was recently issued by Kathlis. I’ll use my WIP Summer at the Crossroads since I talked about Death Out of Time for the Work-in-Progress challenge.

What Is The Working Title Of Your Book?

Oops. See above.

Where Did The Idea Come From For The Book?

It grew from an idea I first had in late 2008 that was linked to string theory, the multiverse, and alternate selves—take a character through a slice of her life in a few different universes. It all came together on 14 April 2009, two days after a talk with my mother. That’s when I started writing. I’ve never looked back.

What Genre Does Your Book Fall Under?

Despite the “science fiction” aspect of Catherine’s ideas, the stories told in the alternate universes are very much mainstream fiction.

What Is The One-Sentence Synopsis Of Your Book?

Um, how about you take a look at my “blurb” here and try your hand at writing one? This is a toughie.

Which Actors Would You Choose To Play Your Characters In A Movie Rendition?

I’d prefer not-well-known actors, but I don’t have any in mind. Given the structure, they could do multiple roles à la “Cloud Atlas.”

Will Your Book Be Self-Published Or Represented By An Agency?

If Death Out of Time finds traditional representation, I hope Summer at the Crossroads will share the same home. But if need be, I’ll go indie.

How Long Did It Take You To Write The First Draft Of Your Manuscript?

Six months. But there have been many, many more in the ensuing three years since that draft was “completed.”

What Other Books Would You Compare Your Story To Within This Genre?

No one who’s seen it has read anything like it. Unfortunately, that would make it a challenge for this unknown writer to find representation. That’s one reason I decided to concentrate on Death Out of Time and try to find it a traditional home.

What Else About Your Book Might Pique The Reader’s Interest?

I think we all have favorite “imaginary” lives for ourselves or have come out of vivid dreams and wondered briefly where we are. And then add those feelings of déjà vu to the mix…. I think this book is a fun and interesting take on what might be happening at a level our brains can’t consciously access.


I’ve seen so many fellow writers presented with these challenges and others recently that I’ve decided not to saddle any nominees with either challenge. That said, if you’d like to take either of them on, please consider this your official tag to do so!

The Look Challenge

And now let’s wrap up with the “Look” Challenge, which was issued by KindredSpirit23. We’ll stick with Summer at the Crossroads to avoid confusion.

For this challenge, you search your manuscript for the word “look,” and then copy the surrounding paragraphs into a post. You can provide some background on the scene if you’d like. Then, tag 5 other writers who are working on, or who have completed a manuscript.

The background—I went with the first “look,” which falls early in the book and helps introduce the ideas behind the story. I’ve provided a few additional paragraphs for more context. Main character Catherine Donnelly is talking with her best friend, Susan Majors, over dinner.

They were early enough to grab a window table and watched Catherine’s fellow federal workers heading out for the weekend. Many would meet up with spouses or friends in the multitude of downtown restaurants. But Catherine’s and Susan’s husbands were at home in McLean and Chicago, happy to let their wives have some girl time alone and enjoying the chance to hang with the boys for a few days.

They shared a split of pinot gris with its crisp citrus accents and opted for lighter fare—veal piccata for Catherine and scallops with garlic sauce for Susan. Catherine sighed in disappointment as she looked over the desserts. But it was unfair to expect a French restaurant to have baklava on the menu.

After the server took their orders, Susan picked up the afternoon’s conversation.

“So tell me more about these other universes. You mean this isn’t science fiction? This is a real scientific theory?”

Catherine eased her heels out of her pumps and stretched her tight calf muscles.

“It’s coming from string theory, which says there are eleven dimensions, not just three. Our universe and others ride on membranes in those eleven dimensions. And the membranes can slide around and bump into each other. Some physicists think a collision like that caused the Big Bang that created our universe.”

“Sounds complicated,” Susan said. “But what a fun idea. And you said there could be other versions of us?”

“That’s right. And since events wouldn’t be the same in any two universes, we might be doing something completely different in a second one. Or it could be something similar in a third one, but not exactly. We might be totally different people in some universes and not even exist in others.”

And there you have my answer to the “Look” challenge. If you’ve managed to stick with this post, thank you! I promise Tuesday’s will be shorter.

42 thoughts on “A Challenging Look At The Next Big Thing And One Lovely Blog

  1. Congrats on your award and challenges. I like learning more about Summer at the Crossroads and reading a snippet.

    I’m actually surprised there seemingly aren’t any books out there along the same angles. I would think someone, at some point, would have written a book touching upon alternate universes/selves.

    I think your story idea is really attention grabbing. Even though I tend to shy away from science fiction because the techy talk goes over my head, I’m nevertheless fascinated by deja vu, multiple universes, string theory.

    This would be a book that would pique my curiosity, especially since you mention that it’s less sci fi and more mainstream fiction. I wouldn’t worry that I couldn’t understand the storyline.

    Happy Saturday! :)


    • I think the closest I can come to a similar “style” would be a book written with a series of “linked” stories. And there are sci-fi books that deal with multiverses and other selves, but they are truly sci-fi. These stories are not. The science/sci-fi element really is limited to Catherine’s ideas for explaining déjà vu, vivid dreams, and those favorite daydreams of “another life.”

      It’s the reader who sits in the “privileged position” of seeing these four different versions of one woman and who gets to connect the dots of the similarities and differences in their lives over one very eventful summer. Kat doesn’t know why she has a recurring dream every few years, and Katarina doesn’t realize who’s office she periodically “sees” when passing by a certain building, for example. But the reader can say, “Aha! I know what that dream means!”

      I also keep the format as non-confusing as possible. :) I don’t repeatedly jump between the universes. Each of the three alternates is presented as a standalone section so you don’t lose track of the characters or their story. At the book’s beginning, then in between each alternate, and at the end, we touch base with Catherine, who provides some context and a bit of her own story.

      With NaNo here and the holidays bearing down on us (yikes!), I’m going to wait for January to see if there are interested betas for the current draft. ;)

      Have a great weekend, and I hope your pirate finds the right story during NaNo! :)


  2. Well done and congratulations, you lovely blogger!!! :D

    I love your ‘look’ response. Summer at the Crossroads sounds highly intriguing – déjà vu..multi-dimensional universes…wonderful stuff (and right up my alley) :D


    • Thanks, Laura. :) It’s funny, when I added this clip for the challenge, I was struck by just how different it sounds from Meghan’s short story and from Death Out of Time. It seems I have more than one voice in my writing. That could be another hurdle for finding representation for the work. I’ll give it a try, but I’m also prepared to go the indie route!


      • I don’t think different voices will be a problem for an agent, but I have heard that different genres are sometimes an issue requiring pen names (so as not to confuse readers). I’ve thought a lot about this because I’m a literary author (two novels) now writing historical fiction. I’m not sure an agent who loves my current work would want to represent my current day small town newspaper novel, or vice versa–one of the reasons I’m not agent hunting right now.


        • Er, a pen name? Why do I think that would be harder than character names?! Maybe I would do variants like “J M Doe” or something like that…. One of the things I have in mind when it’s time to search for agents is to find someone who handles both sci-fi and mainstream/commercial fiction. But even that wouldn’t guarantee a good fit for both books. And if Meghan decides to branch into novels, that adds mystery to the mix. Something tells me most agents and editors would shake their heads in disapproval at my multi-genre writing…. ;)


    • Thanks, Anne! As I just mentioned to 4amWriter above, come January, I’ll be looking for interested betas. ;) I feel a good “push” of serious writing and editing is kicking in, and I want to make some serious progress with it this next year!


  3. I imagine you had to do quite a bit of research for this book. String theory is a complicated subject. How cool to see it put to the fictional world. Can’t wait to read it. In fact, maybe the me in another realm already is. ;)


    • Fortunately, I don’t have to go into massive details about the theory. :) Just some basic and simple discussions. If I’d gone with a sci-fi novel, I would’ve had to do so much more. But this is just the mechanism for us to see these four versions of one woman and how life is similar and different in four different universes. Their summers involve action, intrigue, unexpected meetings…. All very mainstream fiction!

      I’m sure I’ve completed and published this book in another universe—if only that me could send this me a copy! :)


  4. You keep raking in those awards! Good for you.

    It was fun for me to read your WIP selection and note in that long passage of dialogue you only used the word ‘said’ once, but you knew exactly who was speaking the whole time.


  5. Congrats on the award and being tagged! You’re one popular writer. :) LOL I love your honesty about the many drafts since your original draft. I’m intrigued by the idea of alternate universes.


    • Thanks, Kourtney! If I can tighten up the plot and polish the writing, I think it’s a really cool idea for a book. I know this sounds lame, but it really is hard to explain. But early readers didn’t have any trouble with the structure. Because it’s so different, I suspect I’d get the same reaction to the revised and polished manuscript as I did the earlier one—”no thanks.” That’s why I’m focusing on Death Out of Time first. It’s more easily pitched. :)


  6. Ooh, I’d love to read that book! The whole parallel universes idea fascinates me, I’m not sure of the technicalities of whether parallel universes is exactly the same thing here, but it’s something my partner and I (you remember him right?) have spoken about a lot. The other day, we were contemplating whether our consciousness could be flitting between our different selves in the different universes but we would never know because we would be right there with each one at the time, with no conscious awareness of the others we had just come from.

    When you say your story is more mainstream fiction, is that in a ‘Sliding Doors’ kind of way?

    I’m doing a slightly similar thing with my current NaNo story, I don’t mean a similar type of story I mean – I’m writing a Mafia story, but the focus is on a non-Mafia family who accidentally become involved, so the Mafia is more the backdrop than the central focus. Although I’m currently wishing I had done more research on the Mafia than I did before starting!


    • It is a bit like in the “Sliding Doors” story. In one section, Catherine explains to her friend that every choice we make might create a new universe where we made a different decision. And if you read their talks carefully, you can see how one alternate did make another choice in her universe.

      A sci-fi book might take this in a direction where one universe finds a way to contact another, and some of the characters meet their other selves, which causes some unforeseen consequence. That’s not the case here. While the main characters might fleetingly wonder about parallel universes, each part of the story is focused on the story that unfolds for each version of Catherine over a summer. Much as it may sound like I’m giving away a lot of information about the story, there’s so much more I’m not saying. :)

      On of the great things about using something like string theory or the Mafia as a backdrop to the story is that we don’t necessarily need to present much detailed information about them. We can leave it at a simpler level so the reader doesn’t get bogged down or sidetracked by that part of the story.

      The great thing about NaNo is that you can go back and revise those bits later. Remember to turn off your internal editor this month!

      And now, Meghan is tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me that Tuesday’s post needs finishing…. And she doesn’t want me to work on the novels until it is. ;)


    • This was my first novel, and the characters and story are near and dear to my heart. They may have to wait for a “more marketable” story to pave the way. But they will have their day.


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