A big shout out to Lyn Miller-Lachmann, fellow VCFA alum and all around great person, for tagging me in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. I can’t wait to read her new book, Rogue, which comes out in May of this year. Woot! To read more about this compelling story, check out Lyn’s post here.

And now a few questions on my work-in-progress:

What is the working title of your book?

EDIE IN BETWEEN, though some are suggesting I change it to MR. CHARM CITY.


Where did the idea come from for the book?

My mother, who grew up in Baltimore, lost her father when she was in her late teens and I began thinking about what a difficult experience that must have been for her. Also, my paternal grandmother’s funeral service took place on our family property, which seemed unusual to me at the time. From those two points, I wondered what would happen to a teenage girl if the loss of a parent was compounded by the threat of losing her house, the very place made into a home by the deceased parent and the place where the good-bye’s were said.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary realism.

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Edie is very much a ‘girl-next-door;’ she’s fairly ordered and contained at the beginning of the book and experiences a sort of expansion throughout the course of the story. Think Linda Cardellini in her Freaks and Geeks days. Or Skyler Day, who plays Drew Braverman’s girlfriend, in the television show Parenthood. Greg, Edie’s boyfriend, is tall, athletic and cute but not knock-down-drag-out hot. Maybe Cory Monteith, who plays Finn on Glee.

Almost more important than the portrayal of the main characters would be the conception of the house, which is practically another character in the book. These are a few of the Roland Park homes that inspired me.

My grandmother's home.

My grandmother’s home when I was a child.

Neighbors to my grandmother

Neighbors to my grandmother

Another beautifully restored Victorian.

Another beautifully restored Victorian.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

After the death of her mother seventeen-year old Edie hatches an unconventional plan to save her historic Baltimore home — the one her mother faithfully restored — from falling into the hands of her greedy uncle, but is saving the house worth attracting the attention of the rich bad boy and losing her loyal boyfriend in the process?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

In early spring, when I expect final revisions to be complete, I will be seeking representation.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I began this story during the last semester of my MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, so it’s been a little over a year; it currently stands at 72k words.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Readers who enjoy Sarah Dessen’s books are likely to enjoy this one. Also, fans of Natalie Standiford’s Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters might appreciate the Baltimore setting.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Initially, I imagined that I would write about a girl falling apart and acting out after her mother died. In an early draft, my MFA advisor, Martine Leavitt, saw Edie’s connection to her house. She urged me to use that house and challenged me to think outside of the box, reminding me that teens – who don’t have much power – try to take control in very unusual ways. I’d say Edie takes control in an unusual way.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The threat of losing her house propels Edie to create the first-ever male beauty pageant, in which local high school boys compete to be named Mr. Charm City. Readers will be interested to watch Edie’s grief propel her to action. The ensuing shenanigans, both romantic and not, will keep the readers hooked to the very end.

And here’s where I tag writers who I believe are the Next Big Thing (and who also happen to have awesome blogs):

Morgan Baden

Dorothy Dreyer

Laurie Morrison


    • Thanks, Linda! After my great-aunts funeral two months ago, I returned the neighborhood and took the updated photos you see. It’s a beautiful area full of big old homes, each different from the next.


  1. I love those house pictures, and I can see how they’d inspire you to create a character who’s do anything to keep her family’s house. And I like both your title candidates.


    • Thanks, Lyn! The one photo is of my maternal grandmother’s house where I lived for a while after my parents divorced. The area is very much near and dear to my heart, even though I haven’t lived there for decades.


  2. Laura, a male beauty pageant! You are a genius. I can only imagine all the wonderful places your mind will take that one. And these houses are beautiful. There’s something about those old victorians that exude power and grace, almost like they are living and breathing in the woodwork. You need to write faster! I want to read this!


    • Laura – thanks for the comment! Had dinner with Cordelia and Laurie tonight and I told them that I feel like I’m juggling men! And yes, those old Victorians have so much personality. I’m writing as fast as I can, promise! 😉


  3. Pingback: The Next Big Thing: Gemstones edition » Morgan Baden lives here.·

  4. Yay! I love the idea of a male beauty pageant and Edie’s connection to her home. Those pictures are gorgeous 🙂 What a great idea for inspiration!


    • Thanks, Shawna! Inspiration helps at this stage of the revision process. Sometimes revision feels very fulfilling, like working out a challenging puzzle, but other days, laundry looks like a awfully inviting alternative 😉


  5. Came back to re-read this great post today, Laura, and was really struck by your description of Martine’s advice–to think outside the box because teens do some very unusual things to fight for control in their lives. Such wise words. It sounds like you’ve done an amazing job of setting up circumstances to force contained, ordered Edie to go to poignant but entertaining lengths to fight for her home and the connection to her mom. I can’t wait to read her story! And thanks for tagging me. I think I’m going to hold off on answering these questions about my book until I’m feeling more prepared to formulate and share my responses…but hey, there’s no expiration date on the tag, right? 🙂 And when I do post, I’ll look back at this for an awesome example.


  6. Pingback: A Writer’s Process | El Space–The Blog of L. Marie·

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