What's Fresh with Marilee Brothers's Moonstone
A sickly mom. A tiny house trailer. High school bullies and snarky drama queens. Bad-guy dudes with charming smiles. Allie has problems. And then there's that whole thing about fulfilling a magical prophecy and saving the world from evil. Geez. Welcome to the sad, funny, sometimes-scary world of fifteen-year-old Allie Emerson, who's struggling to keep her and her mom's act together in the small-town world of Peacock Flats, Washington. An electrical zap from a TV antenna sets off Allie's weird psychic powers. The next thing she knows she's being visited by a hippy-dippy guardian angel, and then her mysterious neighbor, the town "witch," gives her an incredible moonstone pendant that has powers only a good-hearted "Star Seeker" is meant to command. "Who, me?" is Allie's first reaction. But as sinister events begin to unfold, Allie realizes she's got a destiny to live up to. If she can just survive everyday life, in the meantime.
Hello Marilee, thanks for joining us! Could you please tell us about your first sale?
Marilee: My first real sale was to Medallion Press. I’d been trying to sell Magpie’s Redemption for a year and was pretty discouraged. It didn’t fit into any known category - not a romance although it has romantic elements, too reality based to be chick lit and too funny for nail-biting suspense. After a major publisher held it for six months before rejecting it, I decided my ugly stepchild needed a makeover. I changed the whole manuscript from past tense to present. Trust me, I’ll never do that again! Magpie’s Redemption became The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam. I sent it to Medallion Press whose submission guidelines state they like stories “outside the box.” Turned out to be a marriage made in heaven for my misfit of a book. The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam will be published in October, 2009.
My first YA book, Moonstone, made me a believer in “six degrees of separation,” an idea with the following premise: “If I am one step away from every person I know and two steps away from every person who is known by each of the people I know, then I am six steps away from everyone on earth.”
It started with a rejection letter. After telling me Magpie’s Rejection wasn’t right for her line, the editor went on to say, “You have a natural voice for YA. You should try it.” Her advice pointed me in a new direction, one I had never considered. I began to write Moonstone. In the early stages of the book, I submitted eight pages to a RWA contest with a Young Adult category and placed second. I didn’t know it at the time, but Debra Dixon of Belle Books was one of the judges. Six months later, she hunted me down and said, “Finish the book.”
I did and Moonstone became the debut YA fantasy for their new imprint Bell Bridge Books.
What's your writing routine like?
Marilee: I’m a morning writer. I try to be at the computer by 9:00 a.m. at the latest and write until 12 or 1. Before I start a book, I write a detailed description for each of my main characters…their physical appearance, their backgrounds, their hang-ups, gestures, etc. By the time I start writing, I know how they’ll react in any given situation. Then, I write a very general synopsis. Before each chapter, I brainstorm possible scenes and develop a sketchy outline. Working from the outline, I write the chapter, using only the elements that move the story forward.
Please tell us about your latest novel, Moonstone.
My YA fantasy, Moonstone, was released by Bell Bridge Book on August 15, 2008, the first book in the Unbidden Magic series. The protagonist, Allie Emerson is fifteen and lives in a shabby travel trailer with her malingering mother. Allie develops paranormal powers when she falls off a ladder, bounces off an electric fence and lands in a cow pie. Shortly after, she discovers an age-old prophecy that says she’s destined to save the world from evil. What’s a girl to do but try?
Sounds great! What's up next for you?
Marilee: I’m currently working on Allie’s next adventure. In it, she’ll meet Beck Bradford, an extremely hot guy who’s half human, half demon ( a good demon, of course).
Thanks again for sharing, Marilee! I wish you the best with your writing career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?
Marilee: My main problem is listening to unsolicited advice from the nasty little critic inside my head who tells me, “You’re writing crap!” When I realize I’ve been agonizing over one paragraph for an hour, I do the following. Set the timer for thirty minutes. One rule only: Keep writing until the buzzer goes off. It works for me. I almost always find a couple of gems I can polish up and use.
I’m a former teacher and counselor, married to my college sweetheart and the mother of three sons. I live in Central Washington State on the dry side of the Cascade and write full time when life doesn’t get in the way. Visit her website, www.marileebrothers.com/