When research attacks

So I have finished the re-write on Anywhere But Here (I’m keeping the title) and I’m about 12 chapters in on The Long Way Home (also keeping the title). I’m finding TLWH will have more changes. It was a shorter book (by about 20K!), so I have a lot more to work with in terms of word count if I want to add things.

One of the things I’ve been conscious of is needing the characters to have a bit more focus toward school and college and all that goes along with that. TLWH was written after the main series initially, and I think I glossed over a lot of college prep, which realistically would have been a much bigger focus.

That will also be a focus of the college -set part of the series (they need to go to class more lol), so I’ve done a lot of college related research.

From dorm room tours on YouTube to reunion blogs with tons of 1989-1993 era photos, I’ve been hitting Google pretty hard. I’ve learned how to loft a bed, rode the Green Line D from start to finish, looked through old ’90s course catalogues, Street View walked around Boston, and started mind constructing a campus in a specific location.

In short, research attacked. The re-writing has slowed as I’ve immersed myself in college research. It’s helped for this book because there are a lot of things I forgot the characters would have to worry about their senior year of high school, so it’s given rise to a few story ideas.

If you’ve read the Streetwise/Brookline series in the past and have some comments or suggestions, please leave them here or email me – arieswriting@gmail.com. I’ll be thanking all contributors in the books.

Oh, and if you’re good at titling books, start brainstorming, because I’m at a complete loss. Titles will be the death of me. I’m serious. We’re looking at Book Title 3 and so on now …


So … how goes that rewrite?

It’s not!

That’s not entirely true. I have put in a lot of research (so. much. research) and planning hours, but no writing hours yet. I’m the type of writer that needs to sort things out before I can dive in – I need the plan outlined first. So right now it’s nailing down backstory, pre-book stuff so when I get to sections in Anywhere But Here and The Long Way Home that need to change, I’ll be good to go. I think those two books will be the easiest.

The actual Brookline series? Wow, will I have a lot to work through.

Thanks to some great comments from readers (there’s always time to chime in if you have a suggestion!), I really want to focus on more of the fish-out-of-water issues with the characters transitioning from foster care to college. Financial issues, life skills, living in an upscale area suddenly (even if it is a college campus), being unsupervised but not on the street, being around people who have no idea about their lives … they would have issues other students wouldn’t.

I also want to delve more into their actual schooling. Class friends, projects, how they’re figuring out what to do with their lives etc. Not just sorority stuff, because school was a bigger part of school for me.

I am hoping to get started with the actual rewriting part (for ABH) in February.

Cleaning up my writing also meant cleaning out in general … yes, Marie Kondo has taken over my life. I’ve done my clothes and I’m getting through papers (I swapped books/paper around). Currently I’m going through old journals to see if I should keep anything … the answer is mostly no. I have found some interesting ones from when I was in college which shows me what some of my own concerns were which has been helpful for research.

My biggest concern for the rewrite is titles. I am keeping Anywhere But Here and The Long Way Home, but I want to change the name of the main series individual books (although I’ll probably continue to call the series Brookline University … I can’t seem to stop anyway, even though I like Streetwise a lot too). I was never happy with the main series titles because so many sales platforms had a hard time dealing with their similarity. GooglePlay in particular listed all four books as “Brookline University” and you had to click around to figure out which book it actually was. I don’t want that as an issue in the future.

Since I suck at titles, feel free to toss a few my way by commenting or at @arieswriting on Twitter.


The future of the Brookline University series

I began writing the Brookline University series in 1998, completed the four books in 2005, and began publishing the series in 2008. The series roots go back much further – I created Joy Morrison in 1989 and gave her a twin in 1990.

The first time I mentioned Joy in my story diary she was 28. In a later entry I said she looked like Heather Graham circa License to Drive (based off the pic on the left here).

Since completing the four book series I’ve also written and published two prequels (the Streetwise series) and written a sequel that hasn’t been published (and was a big reason for what I’m now doing with the series). The prequels, which were re-written before publication this year, have a very different tone and vibe from the main series – one that I prefer.

When I first wrote the series, I was only a few years out of high school – the same age as the characters – and a lot of plots I wrote reflected my age. As time marched on, I wanted to change things, but as anyone who’s ever written knows, when you change one thing, it affects another and another … and pretty soon you have a major re-write on your hands.

Libby had an early-on middle name change, became Joy’s twin, and they both got younger.

I have wanted to rewrite the series for a number of years, but being in the middle of publishing it, it seemed like a bad idea. After the release of the prequels and when writing the sequel I realized I really wanted the main series to be just as good and match the tone of the other books. I resented having to include certain things in the prequels just because they were established in the main series, and it really got me focused on a rewrite.

So in 2019, I’ll be rewriting the entire Brookline series, including the Streetwise prequels. Because of this, the books are now out-of-print and no longer available.

I’m not sure how much will change – I’ve considered a name change for the school they go to, for one – but there are some changes I know I’m making that will affect every book. I foresee the biggest changes in the main series, not so much the prequels.

I know exactly what happens to all of the characters in the series now (I didn’t when I wrote it … I actually had no plan for where the series would go after their college years … and sometimes not even during the series itself). I really want to be able to write sequels, and I also have a spinoff series in the works, but none of that can happen without some changes to the main series.

I promise when the books are re-released, members of my newsletter list will be able to get them all at a steep discount.

If you’ve read any of the Brookline University books, here’s your chance to send me some feedback. Anything you hated? Things you’d change? Did I get some things horribly wrong (I know I did), and are there things you definitely don’t want me to change? Characters you loved? Want to see more or less of? Plots you thought were dumb? Plots you appreciated?

Either comment here or click on the Contact button above to shoot me an email. Your comments will really help me with rewrites, and everyone who comments will get a thank you in the book (so please indicate what name you’d like me to use in the thank yous).

Thanks so much and I can’t wait to bring you these books in 2019 (if I can edit that fast … send me some speed vibes too!)