Hi everyone! I am thrilled to have Sonia Hartl, author of Have a Little Faith in Me, on my blog today! Her new book releases Tuesday, September 3rd and she shares with us how writing this book took her by surprise! Are you a writer? I’d love to hear about your process below. Comment below! Also, there’s plenty of time to still preorder or request from your library.
Guest Post: Sonia Hartl
Writing Process for Have a Little Faith in Me
HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME is my debut, but it’s actually my seventh completed manuscript. Each one has had their own process, but I think what worked for this one was that I didn’t have a process at all.
For years, I tried to fit myself into a plotter box. I tried outlining and character charts and plot points and everything I thought I needed to tell a compelling story. This works for a lot of people I admire, and I thought I had to have a system in place to write before I could start writing, but it wasn’t working. It took the fun out of discovering the story as I went, and I got so hung up on hitting beats that I missed opportunities to go off the path and find the real heart of my stories.
That all changed when I started HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME. I was 40k into a manuscript I’d been drafting for four months, and I was losing so much steam. The story and characters I’d so carefully plotted out didn’t hold my interest, they felt as flat as my outline, but I didn’t know how to pull them out of that plot and add the layers they desperately needed. I only kept writing because I thought I was in too deep to quit, but that’s not true. I know the adage is to finish the book, but sometimes walking away is the best thing you can do for yourself.
As I struggled to add another 500 words, a single idea popped into my head: what if a girl tries to win back her born again ex by pretending to be a Christian? That was it, that was all I had. I set my 40k work-in-progress aside. Just for fun I opened up a new Word doc and started writing. I didn’t intend it to be more than freewriting, to see if I had something there. I finished the first day with 10k written.
The story just flowed out of me like nothing I’d ever written before. Within a week I had a full first draft completed. That is not usual writing speed for me at all. But I was having fun with it. It made me laugh, and I had no outline to follow, so I could pause and dig deeper without worrying about rushing to the next plot point. I wrote that story wholly for me, and only because it made me happy, and it ended up being the best thing I’d ever written.
By that time, I’d been on sub for four years straight with three previous manuscripts and I was feeling completely defeated. It had been so long since I wrote just for me. For enjoyment, for the love of writing, without caring about the market, and writing a book I loved changed my outlook on my process going forward. I used to think I needed to have everything perfectly set before I could begin, but I’ve found that for me, I can’t have that much structure. I’m someone who needs just a setting or a basic premise, and then I can discover the rest as I go. There is no right or wrong way, but in writing HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME, I found the right way to write for myself.
About the Book
Have a Little Faith in Me
by Sonia Hartl
“Saved!” meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that takes a meaningful look at consent and what it means to give it.
When CeCe’s born-again ex-boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp in order to win him back. Problem: She knows nothing about Jesus. But her best friend Paul does. He accompanies CeCe to camp, and the plan―God’s or CeCe’s―goes immediately awry when her ex shows up with a new girlfriend, a True Believer at that.
Scrambling to save face, CeCe ropes Paul into faking a relationship. But as deceptions stack up, she questions whether her ex is really the nice guy he seemed. And what about her strange new feelings for Paul―is this love, lust, or an illusion born of heartbreak? To figure it out, she’ll have to confront the reasons she chased her ex to camp in the first place, including the truth about the night she lost her virginity.
About the Author
Sonia Hartl is a YA author who calls Michigan home, even though she’s lived in several different states. Her debut novel, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME is forthcoming from Page Street Publishing. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s enjoying pub trivia, marathoning Disney movies, or taking a walk outside in the fall. She’s a member of SCBWI and the communications director for Pitch Wars. She has been published in The Writers Post Journal and Boston Literary Magazine. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two daughters.