Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Welcome, Insecure Writer Friends!

You ever have something SO COOL happen that you're SURE you can't live up to it? Well that's what happened to me this weekend.

Saturday morning, in that hazy wake-sleep right before I get up, the 'set-up' for the pitch for my next book formed really nicely. I've been thinking about this book for almost a year, maybe longer—but I haven't felt I had the chops to face it. This spring I started doing some plotting and wrote a couple scenes (cheating on my endless editing, if you will) and the ideas were coming together nicely, but it was STILL so hard to DESCRIBE concisely... so this set-up really got me going. I stacked the pillows, grabbed my notebook and pen, shooed my husband who had come in to see if maybe I didn't need a little help in the bedroom *cough* and wrote it out.

I couldn't finish the pitch because I couldn't even remember what I'd called my primary MC (I say primary because this book actually has several PoVs—first time I've done this in AGES) and the VERY first time I'm attempting a bona-fide thriller. She's Sidney, by the way. Sidney Knight.

So when I sent that first paragraph to my friend Joris, he was excited about it—he liked the sound and I could tell he had ideas... But I had NO IDEA how INCREDIBLE his idea would be. We went back and forth with some clarifications, but OHMYGAWD what he came up with!

Take the time to make it big. Look at the map of the US—just SEE if it doesn't give you chills. But I love ALL of it.

And now I am TERRIFIED I will not write an adequate story. How COULD I write an adequate story? I mean even the set-up is huge... but THAT COVER!!!  Even HWMNBMOTI loves it! (and he's very hard to please, but don't tell him I said so)

Here is my VERY first draft of a pitch, but note that the first paragraph just came to me. The rest is still forced and will definitely have to be improved:

A Shot in the Light

Men in a back room have decided the future. They've spotted the problem, a drain on the system: the old, the poor, the sick. And they've constructed a solution. A vaccine. A vaccine that is a death sentence. But they have not thought the plan through, for who is always vaccinated first? Health care providers. Teachers. Those on the front line. Those we cannot afford to be without. Especially when viruses mutate and the plan is no longer contained.

Sidney Knight has her first encounter with the flu outbreak while she pounds out a couple freelance articles from a cheap hotel room on the Oregon coast. She calls her brother at the CDC to discuss the beach full of dead birds and he suggests she wait to get a flu shot, as he thinks the current batch was premature Back home in Portland, a roommate dies from the flu and another frets, because as a nurse, she is being forced to get the shot. When Sidney tries to reach her brother again for solutions, he can't be reached. The CDC has locked down under quarentine and Sidney smells a far bigger story than just the flu.

She flies to Atlanta where she tries to work with her brother's roommate, who was ironically locked out of CDC with the flu, and a mostly drunk reporter friend who has somehow worked out a communication system with her brother.

They work hard to find both cause and solution as the population panics with a healthcare and protection shortage and the righteous and the greedy trying to profit from the aftermath.

So that is what I'm working with. I've written maybe 30 pages (so I will be a BuNoWriMo rebel) but I really need to go through all my notes to make this a manageable book.

Joris blogged yesterday about HIS process of it if you are interested. And he DOES have his shingle out if you want him to be amazing for YOU, too...

You ever receive a gift that intimidated you to try to live up to it?


Anonymous said...

You know, having HWNBNOTI like my work might just be the biggest compliment I've had so far :)
Thank you for your coverage, Tamster! Now, please try to write something a little less awesome next time, 'cause finishing 5.30 am is a tad late even for me ;)

Journaling Woman said...

I love this storyline. I always love this type of thriller. One of my favorites to read and watch. So hurry and get yours done so I can read it.

You can do it and now you have an awesome cover to help inspire.

Go, Hart, Go!

Kyra Lennon said...

I'm officially creeped out by both the picture, and the pitch! I am sure you will do an amazing job with the story!

Jeremy Bates said...

The storyline sounds interesting. I hope to read it in the future.
Good luck with your book.

Old Kitty said...

I love that you already have a gorgeous book cover!! How NAKED is that!??!! Yay!!!!

Go Sidney!! Take care

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

These dreams you have! I'm envious. :)

Love the cover, love the idea. I know you're perfect for executing the story (no pun intended.) :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hart, it sounds epic! You can do it. And pressure to live up to a story? No idea what that feels like. (Yes, that was sarcastic snark.)

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

joris is amazing!
and the pitch is super intriguing!

Hart Johnson said...

Joris-I KNEW you'd know that was a high achievement!

Theresa-thank you! I will try to get it out fast!

Kyra-creeped out is good!

Jeremy-I hope so, too!

Kitty-why those people ARE naked, aren't they? teehee

Elizabeth-I don't ALWAYS have them... can't count on them, at any rate... but I love them when i get them.

Alex-thank you! And I'm snorting at your sarcasm!

Vic-he's pretty great. I'm definitely keeping him! And thanks!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I had plans for a teen version of my Overcoming Obstacles, but once I began outlining and researching it, I realized it was just more than I was ready to tackle. That said, don't back off the idea, Hart. Or you'll always wonder what if?

Sarah Ahiers said...

Holy crap, i LOVE how the US is made up of people. So fricking cool!

Siv Maria said...

This is great, love the picture and the idea! Expectations are scary but I know you will rise to the occasion :)

Hart Johnson said...

Diane-don't give up your idea! You can do it!!!

Sarah-I know, right?!

Siv- THANK YOU!!! I will definitely try!

Hattie Gunter said...

That sounds amazing! I love it. Except I can't look at the cover without having a panic attack, thanks to that giant... you know what it is.

Just try not to worry too much about it. A similar thing happened to me - I had this idea mulling around forEVER, and when it finally was ready to be written I didn't think I could handle it.

Then I finished it for NaNoWriMo, and it made it through the pitch round of ABNA this year :)

So no worries!

Cherie Reich said...

Wow! It sounds awesome, and the cover art...Wow!

Laura said...

I can't wait to read it - and I can already see the movie rights being fought over! Fab cover - love it

Jay Noel said...

Sounds like a great story!

There's one with a somewhat similar premise called Tag.

I absolutely love these kinds of thrillers. What a great cover!

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I like this story that you've come up with Hart. I can't wait to read it. The cover is awesome.

Clarissa Draper said...

Scary novel--scary because it's something that could really happen. Love the cover. What is the US made up of, ants? Your pitch is great.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hart, it really is taken straight from headlines. There is much hoopla over vaccines and serious questions about how they can be used.

There has been wiki leaks on research dealing with population control=causing M/F sterility,selective culling of populations (killing), various uses as a weapon--because who would suspect a vaccine?

Go for it. One step at a time, Hart, and deep breaths.


Helena said...

I so seldom feel worthy! Years ago an elderly woman told me a fantastic story about her grandmother, a pioneer immigrant in Montana. It was all true but only a very small portion (and sanitized at that) was written up in a magazine in the '50s. The real story was a cross between The Thorn Birds and Gone With the Wind. Do you think I'll ever write that epic? Of course not.

Johanna Garth said...

This looks like such a cool idea but as I read it I was also wondering about the infants. Don't they get vaccinated first too and how would that play into/mess with the storyline. Hopefully not at all.

LynnRush said...

Oh yes. The gift that intimidates me is writing. I rarely feel worthy of it. But I just love writing so much so I'm pretty sure that's what I'm supposed to be doing!! LOL. Darn Demon of Doubt creeps in rather frequently--especially around a book release LOL!!

I say WRITE ON, my friend.

RaShelle Workman said...

That sounds so good. Can't wait to read it. You will rock the writing, and do a great job. No doubt.

Hart Johnson said...

Hattie-that is a great step to get a brand new baby through the pitch round! And I recognize you from the ABNA group--great to see you here!

Cherie- THANK YOU!

Laura-oh, man, that would be a dream come true, eh?

Jay, I will have to check that out--but not until after I write. Don't want the influence!

Michael-THANK YOU!

Clarissa, they're PEOPLE! (now you see why I'm chilled!)

Sia-I know--I feel some urgency with it, though I don't want to then be accused of throwing the idea out there, so maybe I should gather some of that to prove I'm not first!

Helena-You SHOULD write it! But maybe put it in the back of your stack. I have my grandfather's very sad tale in that spot, though part of my reason is I can't write it until it can't hurt anyone, which means not for another generation.

Johanna-babies get REGULAR vaccinations, but this is actually a flu shot I'm using, which they DON'T usually give to infants.

Lynn-You should NOT feel that demon of doubt... though as you write about demons, I can see how it would be hard to let some in and not others...


Maurice Mitchell said...

Hart that sounds like an awesome book. Kind of likethe movie Contagion only with character development.

Ella said...

It sounds creepy good ;D I'm intrigued! And you are so right, military gets a lot of those first vaccines, scary stuff~

Funny, I had a flu shot two years ago and it threw my immune system out of wack. I won't get another one, no matter what!

Yes, this one is the moth to flame type and you must write it! It is calling to you. Just keep at it...
I thought of the movie, Contagion, too. Great cover, how can you not be excited!!! ;D

Nate Wilson said...

Very intriguing, Hart. But don't be intimidated by it; let the inspiration of the pitch and cover spur you on. I believe that by the time you're through, your book could very well outshine its cover.

(And hey, the babies might be safe, but for this disturbing little detail: pregnant mothers are among the first to get the shot. Perhaps this could compel your characters to act even faster...)

Hissy_Fitts said...

You have to do it. You will never be able to live with yourself if you don't! You have an amazing plot and Joris designed the perfect cover, and you will feel the pull of this to the core of your being. So, as Nike says, "Just do it!". I love your writing and I can't wait to see where Sidney's journey takes us.

Hart Johnson said...

Maurice- I haven't seen that but 'only with character development' cracked me up! Another that I will have to see AFTER I write my first draft!

Ella-I happen to think we need practice fighting sickness and flu shots undermine that, so I am right there with you!

Nate-you gave me a chill! Though they will only give them at certain stages--I remember getting urged to get one and refusing with one child, but with the other, the timing made it a moot point.

Cherylyn-I definitely will! I feel some urgency on it, too. There is a part of me that wants this out before the supposed world end in December (even though that's a lot of silliness)--but I'd like to catch that trend, and my LAST cozy is due in June, so I have the time to revise and all.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Oh, YES! This will be great, Hart. I love that you have it set in Oregon too.