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Chandra's Blog


Entries in Maria Massie (2)


The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I was invited to this blog event by Dr. Anna Leahy, author of Generation Space. You can read her post here on her Lofty Ambitions blog. Anna has also been a guest blogger on my Writers on Wednesday series--click here to read her past post. Thank you Anna, for inviting me! 

While there is a part of me that is superstitious about talking about work that is out with editors, (documented in The Submission Jinx by Jennifer Haupt at Beyond the Margins) I'm going to throw caution to the wind and dish. 



What is your working title of your book?
The Summer After
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was on book tour for CHOSEN in a hotel room in Santa Monica. I went to bed with the windows open to hear the ocean and I dreamed the plot of this beach story in the night. It was tricky, though, because I had my three kids with me on tour and we hit the ground running the next day--our promised day in Disneyland and then I had a book club that night. It's a scary thing, trying to hold a story in your mind before you can get it down, like carrying a plate full of steaming, slippery spaghetti, and worrying the whole thing will slip off and be lost. I had to hold that dream until we were on a red-eye the final day to dash down the details of the story. The summary is below: 
 Dean Adler flies to Grand Cayman when his teenage son is involved in a tragic accident on the island; Juliet has been sent there at her family's insistence--an urgent change of scenery. The summer after the loss of their spouses, this widower and widow meet over the sandcastle friendships of their children in the sweltering sun of the Caribbean. 
As Dean and Juliet navigate the tentative steps out of grief, love blossoms among the hibiscus. But the quietly brewing storm of Juliet's secrets threaten the tenuous bonds and their tranquil summer.  All vacations must end, and their love story has a built-in expiration date. When the past catches up with them both, a pending hurricane forces an answer to the question--is the greatest tragedy the loves that they lost, or the potential devastation of what they just found?

What genre does your book fall under?
Mainstream/upmarket womens fiction--the kind of book you would want your book club or sister to read and chat about with you. I always say that I aspire to be a Jodi Picoult, only with a little more grit, slightly edgier, less formulaic. 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh I love this question! The guy in my dream looked exactly like Martin Donovan, who played Nancy's dead DEA husband in Weeds, which I was watching back then. There is something so sympathetic and St. Bernardish about him that the character of Dean grew out of him. I want the reader to feel worried for Dean and the goodness of his heart as Juliet's story unfolds. For Juliet, Sandra Bullock comes to mind. Or Claire Danes, because I want her to play all of my characters, but I don't think she's quite right for this one. 
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The Summer After -- a dark past catches up with a widow and widower stumbling through grief and threatens their quest for love the second time around.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
I am represented by Maria Massie of Lippincott, Massie, McQuilken. This work is currently out with editors.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It's funny--I was working on another book and while that manuscript was going out, I dreamed this one. I threw together the above blurb and editors got more excited about this story than the one I was clunking away on. I backburnered the first project and wrote this in about six months. It was a new experience, going back and writing from nothing after years of revision on both CHOSEN and the book in the middle. It was a huge relief to see that I could still sit down with a blank screen and create a world.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Nicholas Sparks SAFE HAVEN
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Two things, really. I'm at the age where a lot of friends are navigating the grief of loss, and the challenge of love the second time around. It's hard and heartbreaking and hopeful all at once. I wanted to write happy love stories for them all, but then there's always the past, and the rub, and second time around, often the kids. It's complicated. I love digging around in messy domestic stuff and encouraging the reader to root for a good outcome.  
I also use stories to write love letters to places I have loved and left. I've been waiting for the right story about Grand Cayman, where I was living when I met my husband. Because of our history with the island and the years we lived there, I knew I knew my Cayman story had to be a love story, but there also had to be some drama. This feels right.
the exact spot where I met my husband
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
The pace of the book is a little faster than a typical love story. Plus there's the setting--who wouldn't want to live out on the remote Rum Point in Grand Cayman for a summer, even if it's only a virtual visit? 
* *** * 
Tagged authors:
Emily Kennedy
Hannah Shelton
Michelle McGee




MONDAY MUSING -- catching up 

These days (or dark early mornings), I am a product of mismanaged caffeine and too much on my mind. Up since 3:25 am, having great fun checking out my revamped website and getting a little silly with the tagging feature for my blog. 

And then in the darkness, little Pip snuggled in beside me, I did something I haven't done in a long time--I wrote in my journal for two blissful hours. So much going on, so many things to say, so much to catch up on now that my frenetic working pace (the writing of my second novel) is slowing.

There is the good... so many exciting things happening for CHOSEN as we near paperback release date, like the Sutter Home Wine Book Club contest (please take a second to vote), selling the Brazilian rights and most recently, the nod from Target, selecting CHOSEN as an Emerging Author pick. I get so tickled about the idea of riding up the escalator in my local store and seeing my novel in the endcap... In fact, I will probably go spend some money there today to show them my gratitude (and pick up birthday gifts for the upcoming kid parties.) It is a huge testament to Maya Ziv (paperback) Sally Kim (hard cover) and Maria Massie (agent) that this book is getting good legs the second time around and I look so forward to talking about it again at upcoming book clubs and events. Stay tuned for information about stops on CHOSEN's blog tour this November/December as well as radio interviews and new reviews.

Remember all my worries about education this year, how after a year of homeschool, book tour and travel, we finally chose traditional school for all three kids? Good news: Hayden is thriving, Max is hanging in there and making me proud, and Pip is blossoming. And I am getting boatloads of writing work and even some running in those twelve hours a week when they are all there. Though J and I still toss around thoughts of next year, of more travel, alternative education, this is working for now.


Then there is the tough... two recent deaths--a father who leaves behind twins the same age as Hayden to cancer, and the loss of the lovely Brazilian man who baptized our children and charmed us at gourmet group dinners with his sparkling eyes and irreverent wit. The anniversary of the loss of dear Matty G looms large. An upcoming surgery for Hayden and Max's tricky transitions to academic life (see above, on the making me proud.) 


And there is the hopeful... a second novel, a love story, off to my agent last week. With that, a chance to return to other writing, to blogging, to reading, to revising and editing with friends. There is also a baby, a new niece, due in a matter of weeks. And of course, Sampson, who continues to challenge and charm us all. You'll be hearing more from me on all of these fronts soon... 


Please let me know if you would like to take a turn on the WRITERS ON WEDNESDAY series, or the DOG BLOG or if your book club would like to chat about CHOSEN.