Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Novel Ideas

I had ordered three LM Montgomery books on Amazon to read on those long plane jaunts to and from Kenya. Since that didn't happen, but we did go camping and now I caught Jenny's flu, I've been devouring them: A Tangled Web, The Blue Castle, and Pat of Silver Bush.

Pat is fine, but not my favorite of Montgomery's. The Blue Castle is wonderful. And A Tangled Web is just a way way way out there fantabulistic book.

When I think about writing a novel, I always circle back to A Tangled Web. My idea, as I may have mentioned before, is to have a Mennonite wedding as the central event, and then have all these other stories woven spaghetti-like through the central tale.

(I do realize that me saying I want to write a book like ATW is like Jenny saying she wants to draw a picture like the Sistine Chapel ceiling.)

So now I'm in novel mode and I keep finding incidents that could possibly be woven into a story. Like: yesterday I was making a cake and discovered I was out of eggs. So I went out to the chicken house to look for some, and found 13 in the nests--because somebody whom we shall not name had "accidentally forgotten" as he says, to bring them in the night before. So I gathered up the hem of my skirt and put the eggs in it and turned to leave. But oops, I had locked myself in somehow. The only escape was out the little door the hens use to go into the pasture. So with a lapful of eggs I sat down on that awful floor and wiggled my way out, feet first, and didn't break any eggs, but just as my white knees were visible to the world, an old seed truck went rattling by on Substation Drive. I got my head out before it turned the corner and saw that it was ours. The big question: just who was driving and had witnessed my escape?? It was Paul, praise God, which I found out after I got myself out of the pasture after I couldn't open the gate and the story got yet more complicated.

Anyway, can't you just see that adapted for a novel? "Amanda" is helping her mom with the baking and has the escaping episode, and "John" who works in her dad's warehouse is the one driving the truck, and she hates him, or wait, she is a good Christian so she seethes with righteous indignation toward him because she's sure he's the one that pushed the ministers to combine the youth Sunday school classes into one after a glorious year of segregation, in which the girls could discuss anything they wanted and even have coffee at times, and she's sure that John just wanted a chance to make cow eyes at her on Sunday mornings, and impress her with his Bible knowledge, but she has no idea that it was actually the dark and brooding Michael that drives a straw truck for Derstines. Oh wait, I was using aliases here.

Then as I mentioned in my last post I met Matt's friend Peter Byler at church last Sunday. Peter is the kind of guy who would play Mr. Bingley in Pride and Prejudice--nice, smiling, congenial. Not brooding and mysterious like Darcy. Anyway, Peter has just produced a cd of his songs so I got a copy on Sunday and found it quite good. Well, Jenny has been sick with the flu and that cd lit her up like nothing else had done and she wanted me to play it again. And again. And again. The next day it was all she wanted to listen to. I finally scrounged a set of headphones to give the rest of us a break. She lies there with her red, watery eyes and scratchy voice and rapturously croaks along with her favorite phrases. The rest of us like Peter's cd as well, as I mentioned, but in moderation rather than 15 times in two days.

Ok, now surely this could also work in a romantic plotline when years from now "Sara" is a lovely girl of 20 and after being dreadfully hurt by the mysterious "Mitchell" that she fell in love with, she meets a nice congenial smiling man--maybe he's her music teacher at Bible school or something--and something healing stirs in her soul when she hears his voice, a whiff of forgotten music plays. . . . ok I can hear my daughters right now, Oh for goodness sakes Mom, he'd be way too OLD. Well, humph, Roger was 32 when Gay was 18 in A Tangled Web, and that all worked out for the best. And if I wrote about this I could make the sick daughter about 4 years older.

As you can see my fever is getting high so I'm off to bed. Add your plot ideas if you have any.

Note to Matt and other literalists: I am not trying to match Jenny with Pete Byler. I am talking about PLOT IDEAS for a NOVEL.

Quote of the Day:
"Did God create the mind of man, or the other way around?"
--Peter Byler, in one of his songs. Jenny asked me what this meant and thought it was very profound. See? Foreshadowing, or something useful.


  1. ATW and TBC were two of my fave LMM books.
    I think you could do better.
    Sorry you aren't feeling well. I had belly ache last night, and it's no fun.

  2. So Mom, you've always been the matchmaking sort....but somehow, putting Jenny and Pete B together absolutely takes the cake! :-D Take your temperature, I think your fever is worse than you thought...

  3. So fun to read about people I know (Peter) on the site of someone I don't know! He's a good guy. Makes me want to meet Jenny...

    I was at the ladies retreat in Int'l Falls last year and heard you speak. Recently found your blog and added it to my list of favourites because you always make me smile.

    Never read the Tangled Web, but the Blue Castle is one of my favourites too.


  4. About the quote: To me "the other way around" could say the mind of man created God? Hmm.... I am assuming this is meant to be sarcastic?

  5. I'll have to read those books as I love LMM's books.

    Now I think you should right that novel. You already have me wandering what will happen ;-) Hope you get to feeling better too.


  6. I will buy a copy as soon as your novel comes out! I've read and reread ATW about a kazillion times. Even my husband likes it. Great commentary on people & personality and how our lives intertwine. Yes! Go for it! :-)

  7. My sister Julia from Mississippi recommended your site.
    As I was reading down over your post I perked right up when I saw you mention Peter Byler. We use to go to the same church in Delaware. It was a delight seeing this young boy grow up into a fine young man. Hes got a sweet momma too!

  8. Puleeze do!~ I've about worn out TBC and ATW.

  9. I love LMMM books! Please give Pat of Silverbush a chance and read the sequel, Mistress Pat. I just love those two along with the others you mentioned. Judy Plum is a character I would love to meet. She also has an "Emily" trilogy. Connie

  10. In my opinion, the world already has too many romance novels that give young girls a distorted picture of love and marriage. Use your talents to write something more beneficial to the sisterhood. If it must have romance in it, don't end with an engagement or wedding. Go on to show that marriage is not the magic solution to all problems.
    There you have it! Straight from a cynical old lady who has enjoyed 40years of a happy marriage but also knows there is much more to life than boy-meets-girl.

  11. Well, anonymous who thinks there's plenty of romance stories, you do have a point, However, A Tangled Web and The Blue Castle have nothing in common with Love Inspired or those four novella jobs named after all the states.
    I bet Dorcas could win you over!

  12. What a great idea. Your writing I mean but it could be tricky, this mennonite wedding in LMM style. I love Lucy Maud and have since before many of you could read.
    I'm a "wish I could write" person as I'm always thinking how this or that "eccentric" or "colourful" character person could be worked into a book. They would be great to be incorprated as another Susan or Charlotte the Fourth or Cornelia. Looking forward to that book. Mary Horst

  13. Thank you for giving me something to check out the next time I visit the library. I read the Anne of Green Gables series and...(some other series I can't remember now) as a girl and loved them SO much. In the past couple years I've rediscovered or newly discovered a lot of young adult fiction I really enjoy! (Like Roald Dahl, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Hillary McKay, and others randomly pulled off the shelves while my kids played).

  14. I belong to a site where you can swap books with others across the US. You get credits for sending books that people request from you (you pay postage costs), but then can request books you want with those credits, and the other person pays to ship them to you. You might be impressed to know that BOTH of your books are listed on the site and "wished for" by a number of people. It's a fun way to recycle old books and get different ones in return. In case you want to check it out, it's called paperbackswap.com

  15. I was hooting about you climbing out the chicken door, white knees exposed to the truck driver. I loved your Mennonite wedding / story plot... ha. Good for the soul. My grandma use to read such stories to lighten up her day. When you get your story written be sure to include me in the sale that goes to friends first before it hits the public.

  16. Of course there would have to be a skeleton somewhere in the mysterious family closet as a side plot, right? An uncle no one talks about (but always remembers), perhaps?
    As far as Mennonite plots...you could do something like...she's a shy beauty from a strict traditional family, and he's a dashing young man from one of the more "progressive" groups (aka worldly)....on second thought, nah. Maybe that smacks a little too much of Beverly Lewis. And you could write a far superior novel to hers. In my opinion. :)