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Swoon Author Shana Silver's First Draft Report: From the Cloud to the Page

Several years ago, I was struggling to come up with a new book idea a few days before my favorite event of the year, NaNoWriMo. I’ve participated in (and won) NaNoWriMo every year since 2006 with the exception of one year… the year I got the book idea for Mind Games.

mind games final cover

Three days before NaNo, I was talking to my dad about technology since I’d just gotten a new computer and was setting up automatic backups to a cloud. He made a comment to the effect of: “One day, we’ll be able to backup everything on a cloud.”

Everything. My mind was spinning. Today it’s files and mp3s! But in the future, what could be possible?

I couldn’t sleep that night as his words turned over in my mind. I started thinking about all the things we might be able to upload one day, including the most tempting one: memories. And then of course I started thinking about what would happen if someone tampered with the technology. The plot formed instantly, but I wasn’t sure it was worth writing.

The next morning, I started up a gchat with my fabulous critique partner, Chandler Baker, who not only keeps me motivated to write, but keeps me accountable and sane doing it!

Shana: Good news! I came up with a book idea for NaNoWriMo!

Chandler: You did?!

Chandler: What is it?

Shana: I don't have a logline yet, but it’s sci-fi. Set in a world where people can trade memories like they can mp3s. They are backed up on cloud devices.

Chandler: Ohhh that's an awesome idea

Shana: My protagonist is a hacker that hacks into other people's memories and then sells them on the down low. For example: she sells the memory of someone taking a test to others that have to take that test.

Shana: And then she notices a new boy at school and mentions to her best friend about him. Her best friend is like, "um, he's always been here."

Shana: But she has no memory of him! Someone has been hacking into HER memories and deleting them. And when she hacks into the new boy’s memories, she discovers he has no memories period. Nothing going back past the current day.

Shana: A mystery ensues! Followed by a swoony romance!

Chandler: Wow, that’s really awesome! Super high concept. Great job!!

Chandler: It has a very “now” feel to it. I love that. This one’s a keeper!

Shana: Yay glad you like it!

Shana: Hopefully I can figure out the mystery solution before my character does, haha

Chandler’s encouragement of the idea went a long way. I realized what I came up with was something special and not something that I should rush. Sure, I could pants my way through NaNo and knock out a first draft that would likely need a lot of action from the “delete” key in revisions. But I knew that I needed to do this idea right. I knew I needed time to let it marinate until the plot fully came to me.

I spent the next few months carefully outlining and plotting. I let the idea turn over in my mind until each scene was fully planned out. I finally started writing the book in April of the following year and it was the easiest book I’ve ever written thanks to all the work I did up front to figure it out in advance. I’m happy to say that the elements I told Chandler that first day still remain in the book. It’s important to have a champion for your work, someone who encourages you to pursue something special (and tells you what ideas NOT to pursue).

Mind Games goes on sale August 13! Don't forget to add it to your Goodreads shelf!

Author spotlight

Shana Silver

Rachel Shane (writing as Shana Silver) studied creative writing at Syracuse University. She's been a computer animator, an e-book creator ...

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