Guest Post from Corey Ann Haydu

Corey Ann Haydu is the author of two YA Contemporaries.

OCD Love Story- July 2013
Life By Committee- May 2014
Several weeks ago, Corey put the word out that she was willing to do a guest post on book blogs and I pounced on the opportunity for her to write one for this blog. Since I am working on 3 writing projects, I really wanted to hear about her writing process.

On Process and Doing What Works

The really wonderful thing about being a writer is the same as the really wonderful thing about being a person—you get to figure out who you are and what makes sense for you in your work and your writing and your life.

Here’s how a book happens for me:
I come up with an idea. It is vague. It is inspired by something else—a bit of my life or a documentary or a play or a podcast or another book. In the case of LIFE BY COMMITTEE I started with this French film I loved—Love Me If You Dare. I liked the structure, danger, and chaos of the film and I wanted to attempt that kind of arc in a book. 

That’s all I knew, when I started.

I write in cafes. I need a mocha or a chai. I have to have internet. I like to be chatting online with friends and looking at interesting articles and generally doing a sort of manic multitasking. I work best with a lot of chaos around me.

I write random scenes, out of order. I have only that one seed of an idea (“a YA novel sort of like that French film”) and nothing else. I play a lot. Slowly, I layer on ideas. At one point in writing LBC I realized the arc I wanted would intersect in an interesting way with bits of my own high school experience.

The first draft took me about a year. First drafts in general tend to take me about a year. It is a messy, messy process. I don’t have any chronology until very late in the game. Plot points occur to me sort of willy-nilly, and I’ll write a scene that seems like it could be interesting (Sasha Cotton on her porch at night, in LBC) and not have any idea why I’m writing it or where it will fit in. It’s a lot like leaving breadcrumbs for myself, Hansel and Gretl style, without actually knowing where I’m walking as I drop those breadcrumbs.

But miraculously a lot of things come together.

And unsurprisingly, a lot of other things fall apart.

I do not have strong first drafts. My revisions are complicated, structural, character and plot overhauls. They are not far from page one rewrites. I need readers (betas and above all else my agent and editor) to ask the right questions so that I can find the right answers.

When I’m revising I make insane, impossible choices. That’s when the book starts to work. I don’t solve a problem of not enough tension or a character’s journey being off by simply tweaking. I completely rethink the way I’m telling the story. I changed the entire way LBC– the online group in the book– functioned in between the second and third drafts. I cut a major character entirely after the first draft. I started the book in a whole new place. I added probably ten chapters in my last revision.

I stayed open to new and large and surprising changes. That’s the important part of the writing process for me—openness. Being open to ideas that seem impossible or exhausting. Taking risks. Writing scenes you may never use. Going in a direction that’s going to be hard to turn yourself around from. Making big and scary decisions, sticking with them, and then having the courage to give them up and undo them again if they’re not working.

And then the scariest—trusting your own instinct and following through even when it’s terrifying and hard.

And knowing how YOU write best, how a novel comes to be for YOU, and not judging that the process doesn’t look the way it’s supposed to. My process isn’t efficient. It requires me knowing when I have done as much as I can do on my own. It is filled with self-doubt and small moments of epiphanies. I am often shocked and appalled and dismayed and lost. My process involves post-it notes and scattered ideas and no outlines or calendars or spreadsheets. It doesn’t involve story arc, even though I know eventually I’ll need that. It doesn’t involve consistency or thinking through motivations, even though I know eventually I’ll need that. It means sometimes I give up halfway through or start over for the fiftieth time. It means for every 80,000 word book, there are 300,000 written words, beautiful scenes that will never be seen, characters I loved that no one else will meet. It means my phone is filled with one sentence idea descriptions that offer me little more than a feeling on which to build a whole novel.

And those little feelings sometimes turn into books.

And that’s mine. I can own that. Even though it’s messy.

Thank you so much Corey for volunteering to write a post for the blog. I loved reading all about your writing process. Keep writing those amazing books for us!

Book Blogger Challenge- Week 13

This feature comes from Good Books & Good Wine. Go link up your posts if you are participating in this feature.

Hi everyone, it is once again time for the weekly feature that I have been participating in for 13 weeks.This query was definitely one of the easiest & hardest that I have ever answered.

Describe One Underappreciated Book Everyone Should Read
Oooh this is a tough one as I have read and loved a lot of books this year. Some of them were book blogger favorites and some of them were gems that I discovered on my own.I am totally going to cheat on this one as I can think of two that I really enjoyed and gave high praise for and both of them went under the radar.

First…

 My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi was an amazing book. It was a contemporary YA book dealing with teenage sex and the ramifications behind it. HIV & AIDS is not often discussed in fictional books which I think is a real shame.

Goodreads
My Review

Second…

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu was amazing. It was about a girl who is diagnosed as severe OCD. I really related a lot to the female main character as I too have OCD. Thankfully not as severe as the main character in this book.

Goodreads
My Review

So tell me, have you read either of these? Let me know if you have and if you enjoyed them.

Review: OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

Book Title: OCD Love Story
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publish Date: July 23rd, 2013
Published By: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Link: AmazonBarnes & Noble

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he’s her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.

But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can’t stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic… and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a lot about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she’s obsessed.

Bea tells herself she’s got it all under control. But this isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion. The truth is, she’s breaking down…and she might end up breaking her own heart.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a Summer Giveaway from Reading Teen.

Review:
As soon as I saw the synopsis for this book, I knew I had to have it. So I entered the giveaway and hoped that if I won,this book would still be available. And it was! I may or may not have jumped up and down like a crazy person.

I was excited to read this for the simple reason that I am OCD,but my OCD-ness is much milder than those depicted in this book. I was hoping that this book would do the tough subject justice as OCD is a very hard thing to deal with. To my pleasant surprise, OCD was handled very well and accurately throughout this book. It showed that OCD can manifest itself into different levels. It’s not just constant hand-washing. It’s far more than that.I was also worried that it would gloss over some of the unpleasantness of OCD and just pretend like it wasn’t a big deal. 

Again I was pleasantly surprised. The author handled it with candor and honesty. No sugarcoating here. She did an excellent job of getting to the nitty gritty about this stuff. While making sure that the portrayal of OCD was accurate,she also created likable characters. Despite not being as severely affected as Bea, I saw so much of myself in Bea. I didn’t take it to the level that she did,but my compulsions are very similar.

At times I found myself frustrated with Bea’s friend Lisha. I know it’s not easy to watch a friend deal with OCD,but she didn’t seem to realize that Bea didn’t want to have OCD. She wanted to be normal. Lisha seemed to be embarrassed by her towards the end. I kept yelling at the book (well technically at Lisha) that Bea needed support. She didn’t need her only female friend to be,excuse my french, a total bitch. I really wished that Lisha tried to understand OCD a bit better. She needed to be aware that Bea didn’t want to have to do all these things. She didn’t want to be essentially controlled by her compulsions.

Oh Beck, how awesome he was. Despite his OCD-ness, I really liked him and I think he really liked Bea as well. I think at times he grew frustrated with Bea’s apparent refusal to work on the compulsions. But I also think that Bea worried about Beck’s various compulsions.

I liked the other characters in the group as well. Watching the progress they made in therapy was wonderful. I think reading this book could definitely silence those who don’t put much stock into therapy. I liked Dr. Pat too. There were times, albeit, only a few times that I really wondered if she was really helping these teens or if they were helping themselves and each other.

Austin and Sylvia,the objects of Bea’s obsession were quirky. I am still not sure how I felt about them. Yes they were kind to Bea which was a good thing. Towards the end,they really started to drive me crazy.

Overall, I really, really loved this book. It was full of likable characters and I identified so much with the main female character. It’s not going to be a book for everyone because it’s definitely not a light and fluffy read. It’s raw and gritty and above all, it’s real. Five stars to this relatable book and wonderfully real characters.

Stacking the Shelves #8

This weekly feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. Head over there and link up your Stacking the Shelves posts. Everything was kind of all over the place this week. A sloooow mail week BUT on the plus side I won a book that I have been dying for (review will be posted tomorrow.) I got some great books on Friday,one of which has been on my TBR for a long time. The other one just looked REALLY good, so I had to snatch it up.
Bought
Sister by Rosamund Lupton (paperback)
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (paperback)


Received for Review
One More Dance by Valentine Cardinale (hard copy from author) 
Six Months Later by Natalie Richards (e-galley from Netgalley)

Gifts
Won
OCD Love Story by Cory Ann Haydu (Thank you Reading Teen)
Fractured (Book 2 in Slated trilogy) by Teri Terry (Thank you Cuddlebuggery)

So let me know if you’ve heard of or have read any of these and if you have,let me know what you thought. As always, please leave a link to your STS post so I can stop by and see the goodies that you got this week.