Only a dream…unfinished

To continue with the behind the scenes details about the making of Dreaming of More, today we’ll look at where the story came from.

In late October of 2018, I was knee-deep and rising in a series that, sadly, is unlikely to ever see the light of day. I won’t go into that too much here, because I want to talk about Dreaming of More, but suffice it to say, to publish that series I’d pretty much have to rewrite the entire thing. All six books and counting. The idea alone is enough to make me want to run for the hills.

I think I already knew those books weren’t going to be published anytime soon, if ever, so when the prospect of NaNoWriMo came up, I started thinking about what I could do. I had a few other books I’d started that didn’t go anywhere, and I started thinking about combining story ideas to see what I could come up with, but nothing hit me over the head saying, “Write ME!”

So I did what I like to do when I need ideas—I went to my Mum. It’s pretty much a guarantee that she’ll either have a good idea, or I’ll figure out what I want to do while I’m emailing her. The only problem with having a brainstorming session with Mum is that we live on different continents in different hemispheres. And half the time email is our only means of communication.

I wanted to write, and I quote, “…a Christmas story with snow and bells and freezing cold and Christmas trees and all that…”

I had three days to think it over and writing that email to Mum didn’t prompt any great story ideas, so I was forced to wait until I heard back from her.

Her reply came the very next day and it started with, “I had this dream a few months ago and part of it has continued to stick in my mind…” What followed was a full page of a rather involved dream. One that really would make for a perfect story.

The wheels of my mind started turning, but I had to know a few things first. Mum’s dream was set in Australia and while they DO have Christmas down under, it’s sorely lacking in anything that fits in the “Christmas, wintry wonderland” category. So I asked permission to change the setting and her reply came back right away. “…yes, you can do what you will with the story as it was only a dream and I never got to finish it…if you can use any of it for a story, go for it.”

We decided between us that she’d wait until the book was finished before she read any of it. Usually, I send her every chapter the moment it’s done, but this time she waited. That meant I needed a new brainstorming partner. ASAP! I called on my sister-in-law. Her reply went something like, “…you don’t ask for much do you? I’ll try to put my thinking cap on while I finish school and fold laundry.”

I really couldn’t understand her reticence…as evidenced by the next email in my folder, my reply to her. “So I guess that means you think…designing a town, creating a working children’s home, establishing a good, Bible-preaching church, peopling said town, filling the home with children, creating their personalities and backstories, starting a ranch, getting said ranch in working order and making it hugely profitable, building a restaurant and making it popular, profitable, and a necessary part of town, building a fancy hotel (that just came to me), bringing in tourists, establishing law and order, and bringing the right people together at the right time…is too much for a homeschooling mom to fit into her busy day? I’m…I’m speechless. You could always skip the laundry.”

Helpful, aren’t I? 🙂

I don’t plot my books out. I’m a pantser. I get a story idea, usually have a few key points in mind, and let the story take me where it wants to go. In this case I knew some of the key players, and I knew where I needed to end up. That was it. So my sister-in-law and I put our heads together (via email) and over the course of two days we figured out all the details I needed, hitting most of the key points from my email.

When NaNoWriMo started, I was ready and able to hit the ground running. It ended up taking longer than a month to finish the story and I never actually signed up for NaNoWriMo, but the book ended up at something like 135,000+ words, so I’m pretty sure I hit the 50k word mark sometime during the required month.

We “packaged it up” and sent it off to Mum in time for Christmas. That was her gift from me and she saved it to read, starting Christmas Day. Her wish to, “…one day read their story,” came true. It wasn’t quite the same story she dreamed, but I don’t think she was disappointed. In a way, the title is a nod to her, and yeah, the book is dedicated to her too. It was her dream even if a lot of the details were changed. There were a few things I didn’t change, one of them being the very end of the story. I’d tell you what that is, but I don’t want to give it all away. You’ll just have to read it. 🙂

3 Comments

  1. Hey hey, that SIL is me! I got my 15 seconds of fame!! 🙂 I’d forgotten about that email convo, but now I remember…it was pretty funny!

    1. Author

      It was! Reading back over those emails was fun. I printed some off. Did you know one of mine filled three letter-sized sheets of paper when it was printed? I don’t know how you stayed sane. 😂

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