Letter to and from Max's friend

This year I decided to try something new – writing letters to characters in my current WIP and then allowing the characters to answer me, all via my blog. This has led to some interesting insights into the book and created opportunities in telling the story that may not have otherwise come to me. Sometimes it has been tricky writing and answering the letters without giving away the book but I think that part of the challenge has been fun.

While you can read any of the letters by clicking on my tag “character letters” I thought it would be fun to collect each character’s letters in one permapost in chronological order. Each time I post a new letter in my daily blog I will append it at the bottom of this page.

Here are the letters to and from the kid who is Max’s best friend.

 January 21st, 2008 | 6:26 PM

Dear Max,
They’ll find you. They always do. I’m sorry.


January 24th, 2008 | 6:55 AM

Dear person who is ignoring me,
I refuse to call you the author of my story because you’re not working on it. It’s cold out here. I’m hungry. 

Max doesn’t look too good. There’s a lot of blood from where, well, you know. I’m pretty sure his leg is broke too.But you don’t care about any of that, do you? The gypsy lady would help, I know she would, but I think they scared her off for good this time.

What am I supposed to do now?

Max’s protector


January 30th, 2008 | 7:21 AM

Dear Character Who is Taking Care of Max,

The gypsy’s back. But she moved. Check out the vacation rentals over by the roller coaster. Whatever you do, don’t antagonize “him.” Whatever he says to you, just walk away.

Author who has your back


January 31st, 2008 | 7:43 AM

To anyone who reads this,
They took Max away today. They won’t tell me where. I don’t know if I will ever see him again. 

I will never, ever forgive YOU for letting this happen. NEVER.

The only person who REALLY loved Max

March 4th, 2008 | 7:06 AM

Dear Lost Boy,
I’ve done all I can for the moment to get rid of the BIG BAD THING in your life yet that doesn’t make you feel as safe as it should. Why not? What do you know that I don’t know? And why won’t you visit Max?



March 5th, 2008 | 7:37 AM

Dear Author Ignoring My Story,
I gave you the first line of the book last night. It led you right to the first scene, with me and Max and meeting the gypsy lady for the first time. I know you remember it because I heard you repeating it before you went to sleep last night and in the shower AND on the way to work.

I’ll visit Max as soon as you give ME a name and commit to my story.

Lost boy


March 11th, 2008 | 6:39 AM

Dear Friend of Max,
Tell me about the very first day you met Max, please. There is so much I don’t understand.

Author who knows this story will make some people mad


March 12th, 2008 | 6:51 AM

Dear Author Who is just  a big old Chicken you-know-what,
Yes, some people are going to be mad at you when you write my story but does that mean it shouldn’t be written? Are you one of those people who just walks by the homeless people and wish they didn’t exisit? Do you sit in your fancy house and push the remote control button every time you see a picture of a starving kid come up on the screen.

I’ve got news for you – pretending like something doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. Believe me, I’ve tried. Every night before I can fall asleep I pretend there isn’t a monster in the house but every morning I wake up, he’s still there.

My dad is the one who brought me and Max together for the first time. My real dad. Not that loser of a guy who convinced my mom to marry him just so he could get her money. I was scared of Max at first. He was pretty scary looking. Still is, only not to me anymore. That first time I met Max all I could think was how much I didn’t want to tick him off because I knew it would be real messy in a hurry and that most of the mess would be me.

My dad thought me and Max needed each other. That made me laugh so hard that it made my dad laugh hard, hard enough to bring a crowd of people around us (we were sitting on the front porch) and pretty soon the whole neighborhood was laughing right along with us and me and Max, we were on our way to being best friends.

Kid who misses his dad

March 14th, 2008 | 6:55 AM

Dear Friend of Max,
Attacking me is NOT going to get your story written. Do you think you are the only one in the world to go through hard times? If so, you are sadly mistaken. The world is not always a pretty place. Life is not easy and it is never, ever fair. Ever.

I’m sorry about the monster. We all have them in some degree or another. Some people have monsters they can see and other people have monsters who live inside them. Everyone gets broken. It’s how you pick yourself up and put yourself back together again that decides how you will live your life.

You dad sounds like a great guy. I’m sorry he’s not in the book but you can go visit him whenever you want.

You were afraid of Max? Really? That made me laugh too! I just remembered about Max and pickles. There’s another story there, I’m sure. Can you tell more more about it?

Author reading up on the legalities around your situation


March 18th, 2008 | 7:19 AM

Dear Author,
Today was a good day and then a bad day and then a really, really bad day.

I went to see my dad and told him all about Max and everything that’s been going on. Then I went to see the gypsy lady but I got lost and ended up on the east side after dark. This big kid chased me for the longest time, I guess he thought I had some money (ha!) but I finally lost him. When I got home my mom had locked the front door and wouldn’t let me so I spent the night on the front porch. No dinner, of course.

Kid who still has no name

PS – it was raining.


March 19th, 2008 | 8:19 AM

Dear Lost Boy,

I’m sorry. I’m sure it’s all my fault so go ahead and rant at me if you want.  All things considered, when you think about what went on that night on the OTHER side of the door, maybe being wet and cold and hungry was better after all?

What do you think?

Author who hates hurting characters she loves


March 24th, 2008 | 7:24 AM

Dear Person Who Keeps Ignoring Me Even Though Everyone Says You Should Be Writing About Me First,

I am not talking to you anymore.

Not at all.


I am not even going to tell you about what happened when I went to see Max.

Lost boy


March 27th, 2008 | 6:23 AM

Dear Lost boy,
I understand. Really I do. I want to remind that I did share the beginning of YOUR story in my Teaser Tuesday. I haven’t done that for anyone else yet. I think you and Flyboy are neck and neck. I know more about his story than I do yours but I know more about yours than I do Plant kid’s story.

There’s another thing I’ve been thinking about with you. There’s this kid who used to talk to me. His name was Frankie. Frankie grabbed me by the throat when I was driving one day and wanted to tell me about some terrible things. He had a sister. A sister with a secret. I saw Frankie’s house and I saw where his mom worked and I saw a bunch of not-so-pretty things in Frankie’s life. The last time I saw Frankie he was running, fast, away from something or someone. He hasn’t spoken to me for over a year. Maybe longer.< /p>

Now I can’t help but wonder, are you Frankie?

Author who needs to read through her old notebooks


March 31th, 2008 | 6:17 AM

Dear Author Putting 2 + 2 Together,
The answer is yes.

But please don’t ask me to talk about my sister yet. I’m not ready.


April 4th, 2008 | 5:23 AM
Dear Frankie,
At last, you have a NAME! I’m so happy. I’ve been wondering if it might be you but I’ve been a bit afraid of going back to your story. I mean, the stuff that happens to Max is bad enough but the stuff with your sister . . . <gulp> Even as backstory it’s not going to be pretty or fun. I’ve seen books written about the sort of thing that happened to your sister and I’ve seen books written about the sort of thing that happens to Max. How can I make it different?

Of course here is where I start to second guess myself. Maybe it is all going to be too icky and depressing and maybe people don’t want to read about that kind of stuff. Or not anymore. I can psych myself out by reading articles about too many depressing stories for kids today or why can’t there be any happy families in children’s books. The more I read those sorts of things the less I think anyone wants to hear about your story. And I can’t help but wonder if dark, hard hitting books with issues at the core, are they the kind of books that people reread again and again? I’m thinking maybe not.

I know you said you didn’t want to talk about it but you know we have to. Now is as good a time as any. Frankie, tell me about your sister.

Author stocking up on tissues

April 10th, 2008 | 8:17 AM

Dear Nosy Author,
The trouble with little sisters is they’re so darn cute all the time. Or they think they are. Or everyone around you thinks they are.  Do you have any idea how many times someone pushed me out of the way so they could get to her and go gaga over her stupid baby noises? 

Lots of times it’s the same thing with dogs. But different. Or maybe it’s me that’s different now. I won’t make the same mistake with Max that I made with my little sister.

Of course I probably won’t get the chance, either.


May 6th, 2008 | 11:48 AM 

Deat Frankie,
We are at an absolute stop. I mean it. A complete and utter stop until you fess up and tell me what happened to your sister. I mean what REALLY happened. Not what you keep telling everyone else.

Author sitting in the dark

May 8th, 2008 | 6:51 AM 

Dear Author,
When I was a little kid, I mean really little, I used to think that going for a ride in the car was this great big adventure. Even if all my mom or dad was going to do was race down to the quick mart for diapers for my sister, I wanted to go. I was good at pretending we were heading for the moon instead.

I was pretty good at getting my way too. I had the cute face and the pouting face and the please don’t you know I’m the best kid in the entire world face down to a science. It was all in the timing. Ask too soon and the answer would still be no. Ask too early and my mom would tell me to quit being a goofball. But if I asked just right I had a pretty good chance of making one of them say yes.

Now I’ve just got one face. It’s just the here I am what do you want me to do now kind of face. Nothing special.

And I don’t ask anyone for anything anymore.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008|Categories: Writing Process|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Working title, maybe. Questions, oh yeah.

Maybe I have a working title for the WIP. Maybe.


What do you think? Max is the dog, not the main character. I’m not sure but I’m playing with it right now and maybe it will make me think of something else.

In somewhat related thoughts, anyone have any guesses as to how much weight an eleven-year-old boy could carry and for how long? Said boy is a slight build, always hungry (probably because there’s not a lot of food in the house.)Weight I’m thinking of having him carry is about 75 pounds.

And in still yet other news, I’m excited that Oliver over at is ready to start his travels. He’s got plans to visit New York, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois and Nebraska. How cool is that?

Thanks to friends everywhere who keep spreading the word.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005|Categories: Writing Process|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Research ramblings

Today was off to Santa Cruz day for errands and research. We got a late start so we only had about an hour and a half to wander around and scout out places for me. I knew a few landmarks I would have in the book and I wanted some pictures of them but I can get them any time. I was really looking for where Frankie’s mom might work and most importantly, where he lived. I took some pictures but nothing felt just “right” so I was fairly resigned to another trip and more thinking to figure it out. We took care of our errands and had dinner. After dinner there was still a little bit of light left, the sun was setting but it wasn’t down yet. I asked my husband to drive down to the boardwalk though I knew that was more of a background than an actual setting for me. We dodged the few remaining tourists and suicidal bicyclists, but still, nothing felt right.

“There’s always Beach Flats,” said my husband.

I uttered a very firm “No.” There was no way I wanted to set my story in that run-down scary part of town that was forever being fought over and/or trashed in the local newspaper. No. I knew Frankie had troubles but there was no way he lived in Beach Flats. Nope. Not on my watch.

We headed down Riverside and I’m basically looking straight ahead, not really absorbing anything except the fact that the sun was going down and it really wasn’t an area we wanted to be in after dark. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the sign for The Peter Pan Motel and I got one of those wonderful little shivers. That’s it! That’s where Frankie’s mom works. I did a 180 in my seat to snap a quick picture and didn’t pay attention to the fact that we were driving deeper into Beach Flats.

We turned the corner at the little psychic shop (picture taken, of course) and my idea machine shifted into overdrive wondering if there was a psychic in the book and what that might mean to the plot (that plot that still eludes me)

And then I saw it. Frankie’s house. I  KNEW it was his house. It was perfect. Not what I expected but I knew it was the right one. I could see one of Frankie’s hiding places and the porch where Max liked to sleep. I snapped a few pictures but the one-way street was so narrow that I couldn’t get the roof, or a nice full picture. My husband wouldn’t let me get out of the car and said we’d have to go back in the middle of the day when it was 100% daylight. I knew he was right (he’s got all the common-sense in the house) but boy it was hard not to jump out of the car and pace up and down the street. I doubt he’ll ever let me do that.

We zig zagged up and down a few more streets and actually found a tiny park called, appropriately, Beach Flats Park, and some other interesting areas. All in all I shot 63 pictures which wasn’t bad.

My husband indulged me on the ride home with my ramblings and brainstorming about the elusive plot. I do wonder about the phsyic. She? He? could be very interesting, especially if I add in the Tarot card idea. But that set off another whole discussion – if I use Tarot cards in the book some people will be against the book (not that that is a bad thing) and of course, those same people will be against the psychic idea too. Ditto the crystals. Yet all of that is very much a part of the Santa Cruz scene. I know we shouldn’t let society dictate what does and doesn’t belong in our stories, that power belongs to the story and what is the right way to tell that story. But I’ll admit to thinking once or twice that maybe I should just play it safe.

Sigh. I don’t know yet. I have this problem with playing it safe. I’ll end on a high – I finally figured out what kind of dog Max is (after many hours of searching through He’s a Rottweiler/German Shepherd mix and he looks scary but he’s not.

Bedtime for me. Tomorrow it is ALL about Rachel the revisions for her book. Okay, and mailing out some of the publicity stuff for Oliver.

Saturday, September 24, 2005|Categories: Writing Process|Tags: , , , |21 Comments

Turnaround Tuesday

Today is going to be better than yesterday. I so deem it or is that supposed to be I deem it so? Lack of sleep notwithstanding, of course. Yawn.

In non-writing news we went to go visit my brother-in-law’s brand new 6 week old puppy (German Shepherd). Poor guy had ordered one from a breeder back east who, at the last minute, decided to sell the pup to someone else. Luckily he found a more local breeder and picked his new baby (still nameless) up this weekend. She’s adorable but I’m reminded of how much work a new puppy is (kinda like a new baby). Before we went over there I thought I would come home with puppy envy and want to get another pup right away (which is silly because Chelsie, the current dog in residence – would not tolerate another dog in the house at all and she still has many years with us.) Anyway, it was good to know that neither my husband nor I had any desire for a pup. More dogs, yes, but when Chelsie is gone we both prefer the idea of a rescue dog or two.

I can link this to writing, really, because I am trying to figure out what kind of dog Max might be. I thought I knew but now I’m not so sure. I will have to go look at rescue dogs online and try and figure it out. I started mapping out Frankie’s neighborhood yesterday, figuring out what streets would be normal for him to run around on. Since this is based in a real town I went looking for landmarks and got all excited when I found a low-income housing project right in the area. It was perfect. But then the more I read about it the more I learned how much trouble the area was having with gangs and now I don’t know if I want or should use it. This book is writing itself in a completely different way than anything else. I’ve never done so much thinking ahead of time, I’ve usually just plunged in and wrote but I am still in that limbo-land knowing I have to do the Hugging the Rock revisions soon. (The revision letter is due today – we’ll see.) But the thinking is good. I’ve been able to discard a bunch of stuff plot-wise that either doesn’t work or doesn’t interest me and hopefully I have primed the subconscious pump to be working in the background. Time will tell.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005|Categories: Writing Process|Tags: , , , |0 Comments