by Carissa Miller
Publication date: September 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
When Elle Christiansen’s rebellion leads to her father’s expulsion from a parsonage in small-town Ohio, the forlorn pair is forced to move to Oklahoma to live with an aunt neither of them has ever met. Here she encounters her aunt’s neighbor—Maverick Mason, the quietly confident son of a wealthy oil tycoon who infuriates her as much as he inexplicably draws her in…
Maverick slowly gains Elle’s trust and coaxes her out from the seemingly impenetrable walls of self-protection she erected around her heart when her mother was murdered. He convinces Elle to confide the secrets of her tortured past: that she saw her mother’s murder before it took place, and she was the one who found her, bleeding to death at the end of a lonely dirt road. Together the unlikely pair begins to unlock the secrets of not only Elle’s sordid past, but her mother’s and grandmother’s as well, to uncover decades of greed, corporate corruption, lies, and murder. Quickly, the sobering realization hits: if they do not solve her mother’s murder, Elle will undoubtedly suffer the same fate. As she continues her journey toward truth alongside the boy she is magnetically drawn to in a way both frightening and uncontrollable, Elle finds the road she is most afraid of going down—that one lane dirt road where her mother was murdered—just might be the only place she can truly find redemption.
Magnetic tells of the enduring pain of living with unsolved violent crime. Inspired by debut author Carissa Miller’s true-life events, it’s a haunting account of a young girl’s struggle in the aftermath of shattering loss. With an unraveling love story, puzzling mystery, unexpected twists and turns, and a gripping pace that will keep you turning pages, our heroine takes you on her journey as she learns one of life’s great lessons: facing your fears instead of running from them, is the only way to truly find freedom.
Guest Post: Building a Writing Routine
by Amanda McKinney
HOW TO GET PAST WRITER’S BLOCK – Music is essential to me to the writing process and in overcoming writer’s block. When I start writing, I create a playlist and even organize the playlist to match different sections of the book based on the mood of what is happening in the book. When I get stuck, I often use music and my playlist to help motivate and evoke emotions. Music helps elicit creativity and pushes me past writer’s block.
HOW TO HANDLE PLOT – I think this process is unique for each writer. For me, the writing process is very organic so I have a general idea of the overall plot and just start writing. Then, once I’ve developed the characters and have started the story, I usually sit down and do a timeline and overall outline of where I want the story to go. Some writers, however, prefer to do the outline of the plot before they begin writing. I just find it impossible to sketch out the entire plot before I’ve developed the character so I outline the plot later in my writing process.
HOW TO HANDLE SETTING – Magnetic is my debut novel and when I began writing, I knew it would be about a girl who left her hometown and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. I wanted Tulsa—a city I know well and love—to be the backdrop for my story. I chose some of my favorite architectural landmarks, businesses, homes, and schools from Tulsa to form the setting of Magnetic. For example, I have always been intrigued by the McClintock Mansion at 41st & Lewis in Tulsa. It was the inspiration for Maverick Mason’s home, which I describe in detail in the second chapter of the book, when Elle arrives at her aunt’s house on the back of the Mason’s estate. I also have always loved Utica Square and Cascia Hall, both of which I wrote into the book although I named them differently. As the mystery element developed in my book, I added to the setting further by writing in the Osage Indian Reservation, a place in Northeastern Oklahoma that I have enjoyed visiting for tribal dances and to visit the Tallgrass Prairies. Developing the setting is a crucial part of writing and for me, it is easiest to write about places I’ve lived or have been that I have an emotional connection to.
HOW TO HANDLE THEME – When I started writing Magnetic, I had no idea what the thematic context of the book would be. Now I look back and realize that I wrote Magnetic to heal, to forgive, and to face a past that I had spent years running from.
When I was ten years old—days before my 11th birthday to be exact—my mother was almost murdered. A man hid in the back of her van with a hunting knife and stabbed her repeatedly, tried to rape her, then left her naked and bleeding to death in a ditch on the side of the road in McAlester, Oklahoma. My mother was a victim of violent crime, yet so was I. But that wasn’t something I ever truly faced until I was thirty-five years old, the exact age she was when she was almost murdered. It was then that I realized I was still so angry at the man who tried to murder my mom—the man who was never found or brought to justice—and I decided it was time to finally face that pain. So, I sat down and wrote the first chapter to Magnetic. I had no plan. I just knew I was going to write about a girl who was dealing with the trauma and pain of unsolved violent crime. And that’s what I did.
While writing Magnetic, I found healing and peace and now I see that the main theme that runs throughout the book is this: Facing your fears instead of running from them is the only true way to find peace. I faced my fears when I wrote this book, just as Elle—the heroine of Magnetic—did in the book; and in doing so, I finally found freedom and peace.
HOW TO HANDLE DIALOGUE – So I am going to keep it really real in answering this question because I believe in honesty. The truth is, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing when I wrote Magnetic and didn’t even know how to write dialogue. The first draft was probably TERRIBLE and I had very little dialogue written in at all. I was telling the reading everything instead of showing them by using dialogue between the characters and even inner dialogue. After I wrote the first draft, I went back and did some reading of some of my favorite Young Adult authors and I quickly realized I needed to up my dialogue game BIG TIME. I went back through the entire manuscript and rewrote almost everything, adding dialogue everywhere and deleting paragraphs where I was just telling. I read articles about how to write dialogue. I read my favorite authors and studied how they used dialogue. And I taught myself how to write dialogue. So all that to say, I am definitely no expert on writing dialogue by any means. I’m self-taught but I would recommend this: pull out all your favorite books and read them again, this time noting how the author writes and uses dialogue. It’s like a whole new world will open up to you. Then take what you learned and apply it to your own writing. Use the dialogue between character to show what is going on, how someone feels, to develop characters, and to make the reader feel more engaged in the story. Dialogue is so very powerful! It is a tool that must be used. This is something I didn’t realize whatsoever when I started writing and I had to teach myself the hard way. Now I realize how powerful dialogue is and I enjoy using it to develop characters, portray themes, and move the plot of my books!
HOW TO HANDLE CHARACTER – Character development is the most exciting element of writing for me and I have learned so much about it throughout the writing process of my debut novel. Much like writing dialogue, character development was something I made a lot of mistakes at during my first draft of Magnetic. It’s so important in developing characters, to show them as multi-faceted. I made the mistake of making assumptions in my first draft of writing, as if the reader new the character like I did. NO! The reader knows nothing about your character so you have to develop them, nurture them, show who they are and why they are who they are. If they are angry and misunderstood, you have to show the reader why. You have to make the reader feel sympathetic. This is something I had to realize about Elle, my main character. I, as the author, realized that Elle was traumatized. She was truly suffering from PTSD and was a victim of horrific unsolved violent crime. She was angry, confused, but most of all—traumatized. I needed to show readers this and make them understand that she was rude to her father and pushed people away because of the trauma in her life and her inability to deal with it. She was terrified to get close to anyone, only to lose them again like she lost her mother. But I needed to show my readers that and I didn’t do a good job of doing so in my first draft of writing. Throughout the editing process, I learned a lot about character development and I realized how crucial it is to the writing process. I also realized I needed to work on many of the characters in my book and develop them further. For instance, with Elle, I needed to show moments of softness and show the reader how much she loved her childhood best friends and her aunt and even her father. I needed to show the reader all the different levels of the Main Character and how her anger and defiance were a reaction to the extreme pain she was forced to endure. Once I realized the endless possibilities of how to develop a character, that is when the fun really began. Now character development is my favorite thing about writing! It’s something I had to learn as I wrote Magnetic and it’s something that I look forward to doing more than anything in my future writing.
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Carissa Miller writes a lifestyle and design blog called CC and Mike, where she and her husband blog about their experiences designing, building, and flipping houses in the Midwest. She was inspired to write her debut novel–Magnetic—because of her firsthand experience living with the trauma of an unsolved violent crime, her mother’s attempted murder. When she’s not writing, blogging, or designing, Carissa loves Oklahoma summers on the lake with her husband and three children, going to Oklahoma State sporting events and cheering on the Cowboys, and traveling cross country with her family in the RV she and her husband renovated. Carissa laughs loudly, loves with her whole heart, tells it how it is to a fault, and enjoys living life to the fullest, every moment of every day.
You can follow along with Carissa and her family on Instagram – ccandmikecreative, Facebook – CC and Mike, Pinterest – CC and Mike, Twitter, or by subscribing to their blog – http://www.ccandmike.com/.