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Exclusive: Inside Look at the Story Development of Green Lady

Reminiscing about the story development of a novel that’s close to her heart, author Jennifer Julander delves into the first moments of Green Lady, which began as a daydream nearly 15 years ago.

“The forest was full of sunlight. She reveled in the tall pine columns and oak shade. How could anyone feel ill at ease in the living wood, under the star-speckle shade of leaves?”
—Green Lady, Chapter 1

How the Story Began

Green Lady‘s story development was the product of a young girl’s homesickness and her inherent love for literature.

A 12-year-old Jennifer Julander sat in her seventh-grade Pre-Algebra class, day-dreaming and writing in her notebook as she often did. She was a good student and kept good grades, yet time and again her imagination took hold.

Her light brown hair swept in a frizzy mess down her back. Red, round glasses framed her green eyes.

Her wooden, metal school desk sat in the row closest to the classroom’s only large window giving her a good view of the outside.

The sun was high in the sky and the school day was still early. Even so, Jennifer wasn’t in the brightest of moods. She wasn’t particularly excited about living in her new home. After all, this was her first autumn in Utah and she missed the trees of Georgia.

“Mom just had to move us to the desert,” Jennifer thought. The lack of trees was unnerving. Instead of staring out the window, she looked down at her green Compositions notebook, the cover decorated with frogs and lily pads.

Frogs had frequented her backyard in Georgia, swarming around the swimming pool, their croaks an evening chorus she’d never forget. Suddenly, her trees of Georgia didn’t seem so far away. She was transported back to the woods, immersed in a magical forest of her own imagination…

 

What started as a short story…

“Instead of taking notes, I decided to write a short story,” Jennifer said.

Little did she know, this was just the beginning of the story development of her first novel. Green Lady became a project she’d return to again and again for years to come.

As an adult, wife, marketing professional, and mother of two young boys, she’s months away from the publication her debut novel, Green Lady. What started as a handwritten notebook has become a young-adult fantasy novel.

This story is filled with themes of adventure, magic, romance and coming-of-age. Fifteen years after it began as a short story, Green Lady will be published on Earth Day, April, 22, 2017.

 

Now, Julander is 27 years old and wears her brown hair short. Glasses still frame her face, and her imagination still gets the better of her. Her muse is a combination of coffee, soundtracks, a leather-bound notebook, and the outdoors. (Some things never change). Story development, she says, is usually easier when the “ambiance encourages imagination.”

“It’s amazing that what I wrote at the age of 12 stayed in my mind this long and resurfaced in the rewrites I did a year ago,” Julander said. “If I turn back to that notebook, I’m often astonished by how much of it ended up in the final manuscript.”

Green Lady has gone through many changes and has evolved over the years just as she has. She’s grown up and so has her writing style. After years of diligent story development, the finished novel is 400+ pages, 102,000+ words long. It much more resembles the kind of story she would’ve wanted to read in high school.

Professional Development

During high school, Julander became serious about becoming a novelist. At the time of graduation, she’d rewritten Green Lady several times. She’d finished a completely hand-written, 300-page draft of the story. The last chapter was written to Mozart’s 45th Symphony, she said.

“I remember writing until my entire arm went numb, from my elbow to my little finger,” Julander said. She continued to pursue her writing throughout college, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing at the University of Utah. Her first creative writing professor encouraged her to wait until after graduation to publish her book.

“She said my writing style would change throughout college, and she was right,” Julander said. By the time she graduated three years later, her writing style and expression had changed drastically.

“I realized I had to start from scratch,” she said.

She spent another five and a half years finalizing a completed draft of her novel. After that, she spent one more year immersed in rewrites, revisions, and editing.

 

Story development pays off in the end…

Green Lady is now available on Jennifer Julander’s website.

“It’s about time,” Julander said. “Story development and publishing are a rough road. Sometimes, you know what you’re meant to do in life but there isn’t much of a way to learn how, except by trial and error.”

Now, as an experienced writer and researcher, Julander knows what she’d do differently to speed up the process.

“But if you ask me whether I’d change anything, the answer is no,” Julander said. “Green Lady wouldn’t be what it is without the journey I took to reach the end, including moving from the heart of the forest to a desert climate.”

Order your copy of Green Lady here.

Several posts on Jennifer Julander’s blog discuss courses for writers. You can also find self-publishing advice (most of which she learned the hard way) & mistakes that are easy to make drafting your first novel.

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