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.