Crazy Train Collective Conversation

headshot bw 2
your humble host

First thing, that name’s gotta go.

Today I promised to lay out how this “crazy train” thing is gonna work – a bunch of different people coming together to write one book.

Actually, it’s pretty simple – but in order to explain it, I’m going to have to ruin QUITE a few surprises. That’s okay; you guys want to see how to sneak a surprise into a story, you’ll watch as we lay the land mines into the outline.

Here’s the gist of it: an old lady lies in her nursing home bed telling stories to a new nurse. I think you knew that. Each of you can write one of the stories she tells, potentially.

What are we doing today? Everybody gets to see my story ideas and suggest additional stories for the old lady to recall. Anything you want, we’ll consider it.

  • You can take one of my ideas and run with it, and I’ll supervise the short story. We’ll collaborate, I’ll draw up an outline and start the story and characters, and you write it!
  • You can write a story idea of your own.
  • You don’t have to write at all; you can help someone else. (I’d like you to.)
  • Editing might be done by me, or by you on somebody else’s story!
  • If your story doesn’t fit (let’s face it, if we get 20 stories they can’t all be in one book) we may feature it here on the blog or possibly as bonus material.

ANY CONTRIBUTION MADE MY ANYONE will get them listed in the book and main contributors will be listed on Amazon – but I want to list as many on Amazon as possible, to get you the exposure you deserve.

Here’s how I plan on doing that:

  • I will be doing a ton of work on this thing. I will write some stories for it, edit the contributing stories for cohesiveness, etc. So I’m expecting my name to take top billing on the book, right at the very top. However, if Stephen King joins us, I’ll let him take top billing. Because marketing. And Stephen King. Totally worth it.
  • Whoever does the second most volume of work by my estimation or that of the group, they get second billing. If they do as much work as me, their name will be on the cover as big as mine. That’s a big deal, folks.
  • Everybody who writes a short story that gets accepted, your name will be on the cover, too, a little smaller, as a “with” author. So it might say DAN ALATORRE, FRED FREDRICKSON Crazy Train Collective (it will NOT say that as the title – see below) with Annette Addition, Bill Bookwriter, Christy Contributor, Danielle Didit, and Evelyn Editor. (I’m thinking five “with” names, but there could be more.)
  • If you help edit a story, proof read, etc, you’ll be listed inside as a co-author/with author AND in the acknowledgements, where I will gush about your contribution, and we’ll find a place to squeeze you in on the Ammy listing under editor. Or illustrator. Something. You may be asked to submit a doodle. (A stick man will probably do.) There’s a translator listing. Maybe there, who knows. But if we can list 50 contributors, we will. I want everyone who helps to be recognized with a searchable Amazon listing.

Okay, now the fun stuff.

WE NEED A TITLE

Crazy Train is really just a (bad) way to refer to people who want to work on an endeavor like this. That’s definitely not the name of the book! The thrust of the story/stories is these two people, their souls, are supposed to be together, but fate plays its games and when they meet up, they are separated in each story for some reason. So even though we’ll have a bunch of awesome romance stories that have sad endings (Titanic, anyone?), the reader needs to feel it in their bones each time that these two belong together! They are destined to be united. They are soul mates. They just don’t always know it. So think about a title because it can’t be crazy train. In the comments section below, make your suggestions for a title.

Next, a COVER.

(We may have to wait until we have a title.) The cover needs to reflect lovers and the spanning of time. Passion. Love. Lust. But not Fabio, okay? I actually have an idea for a cover so I’ll see if I can post it later this week, but if you get a vision of what I described in the prior paragraph, feel free to describe it in the comments section below or send it to me at the Contact Me button. Or both.

Now, the real meat: THE OUTLINES

The old lady goes into her nursing home. She tells stories every day to her new nurse. Each story is about two lovers who meet, and then because of a strange twist of fate they are not allowed to stay together.

The old lady/new nurse story takes place in modern times. Could be as long ago as 10 or 20 years, could be as far into the future as 10 or 20 years, but it’s more or less around now. This story will have a Fried Green Tomatoes feel, so we will come back to it between the other stories.

The short stories will be where individuals can showcase their skills.

There’s a story from 1849 – the young boy Nathan and the young girl Abigail (we can change these names). I started this story HERE. His father is a merchant supplying Gold Rush families as they cross the Mississippi to head west and strike it rich. Her father is a trader who plans on selling the miners whatever they need to keep mining, like Levi Strauss (the blue jeans guy) did. His family is staying put; hers is moving on – as soon as her father’s supplies come in and he gets over a bout of fever. But they have a few weeks while her father gears up. They make the most of it, sneaking off whenever they can, to hold hands and gaze into each other’s eyes. Young love. The regret of not saying things you should until it’s too late. Her family departs and he decides staying is now too painful. He moves out with a family friend heading north to do trapping, leaving his pain and his old life behind. After a few weeks, she manages to return. Her father, like so many on the trail, has died of dysentery and she came back to find Nathan, but he is gone.

Then we might go back to a segment where the new nurse and the old lady converse, like THIS.

Another story involves a soldier in colonial times who loves a young lady but she is due to wed a wealthy man – possibly an older wealthy man. The young girl and the young man love each other, but her father insists she marry another. Since they love each other, he pledges his undying love, offering to elope with her right now. She wants to. He insists they should be together and says if there’s a God he’ll be able to see her and be with her and his dying words will be saying I love you as he gazes into her eyes. But she is as the times require – obedient to her family’s wants. She leaves to marry the older man and he decides to go off and fight the war in the place of a wealthy man’s son – as was also a custom at the time. Weeks later, cold and starving on a remote battlefield, he gets shot and lays dying in the mud, pulling an image of her from his pocket and says I love you as he gazes into her eyes before he dies.

There is a story from more modern times, where a girl of about 8 years old sees a young boy playing, and she later attends his funeral. You may have read that one. It’s a little rough but it sets the stage.

Another may involve two lovers who can’t be together because he is a marriage counselor and she is married, coming to see him with her husband. But there’s a spark, and he – they – have to wrestle with that.

Another might involve a student and a teacher, both men in the 1920’s, who can’t be together because society frowns upon such relationships.

Another involves a high school girl visiting a college campus and seeing a boy she was mesmerized by in high school, gathering the nerve to talk to him at a party and – after a few beers — telling him she always wanted to kiss him. He has to make a decision in front of his friends, but she feels a spark she remembered from the first time she saw him years before. Where does that go?

These are rough ideas, the details to be filled in or new ideas incorporated. Some stories will be longer, some shorter.

I have a thought about a westerner who loves a native American woman – and that was extremely unpopular in the old west, so we can deal with love and racism.

Again, we’ll jump back to the old lady in the home between the stories.

So you see the potential for lots of different genres and writers.

But here’s the kicker.

They are all the same two characters. Each story is a snippet of a bigger story. They are reincarnated again and again and thrown together until they find each other, until they figure it out. And it’s not always a boy and a girl. It can be two men or whatever. Because the soul might be a male in one life and a female in another. Either way, the souls find each other because they are destined to be together. They are soul mates.

And

The old lady has figured it out, as did the high school girl. They are one and the same. She’s the young girl who attended the funeral of the 8 year old boy (bottom half of that post), she’s Abigail, she’s the colonial guy’s daughter. And on her death bed, in the home, she is explaining it to the new nurse who has never really understood love, and she is laughed at by the jaded nurses who never will.

As the reader starts to understand the old lady IS the women she’s been telling stories about, we wonder where the boy is, the young man in the stories.

IS THAT AWESOME OR WHAT???

I’m freaking going bananas over here.

And then we need an ending. Maybe she sees him before she dies; maybe she knows she is about to catch up with him as she dies; maybe something else. After a bunch of sad stories, we can end hopeful or happy or whatever. We’ll figure that out.

So…

Thoughts?

Your job will be to volunteer to write one of these stories, to suggest a story to be added, to edit or proofread or beta read the thing; to help lay out a time line (because if they reincarnate, they kinda need to die before the next story starts). And oh yeah the main story of the old lady has to be a secret until we reveal it to the reader.

Tricky, but there are ways.

Who’s up for the challenge?

THIS MAY BE YOUR BIG CHANCE

THIS is your way to get some notice. This book will have a dozen people promoting it, and you want to be part of it, even if it’s a smaller role. EVERYONE can play a role! If your schedule won’t allow a lot of time, maybe you have a story or a chapter we can use from something you already wrote – send it in, let’s see! Like, we need a piece where the old lady’s son visits her in the home, so we can see they’ve grown apart. Who knows. You may have something already written that will work. (Are you listening, Jenny?)

And I’ll be working with all of you no matter your experience level (trust me, I’ll be learning from you, too). We’ll talk on Facebook or Messenger by email (NOT PINTEREST), and maybe occasionally discuss our project’s progress on the video show Writer’s Off Task With Friends, whatever it takes. You can periodically mention it on your blog so your followers know what you are working on and how excited you are to be a part of such a potentially huge project, giving updates about how it’s coming along.

Post below to suggest your ideas and give us your comments!

I WANT YOU!

Let’s do this thing! And please. Let’s think of a new title. Crazy train sucks.

 

 

71 thoughts on “Crazy Train Collective Conversation

  1. Way cool idea. As for the stories, I really like the ones involving interracial or homosexual elements that clash with the culture of whatever time they’re in. Those can’t be the whole book to or it’ll get too predictable, but definitely a couple of those should be in there. Can I call dibs on one?
    What if in one scenario one of the characters themselves get in the way – like there aren’t any outside forces keeping them apart necessarily, but one of the lovers has internal conflict that dooms them?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am open to ALL ideas right now, and we’ll take the most interesting ones forward. That doesn’t mean we can’t incorporate an idea and use it in a different time period or story. Like, racism exists in all time periods; we might use it anywhere.

      Plus, just because you want to work on one short story doesn’t preclude you from working on other ones or the main story. I want it to be a collaboration whenever possible.

      Great ideas! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m loving this! What about a working woman who loves a married man, gets pregnant but hides it from him, he can’t leave his wife because he still loves her. The woman raises the child (boy or girl) who later marries and has a daughter, a daughter who becomes a nurse. And one of her first patients is an old woman in a nursing home who turns out to be her grandmother! It probably would be best written as the girl sharing the story of her life with the old lady and the old woman recognizing her story…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Have you read the series Rapture, Lauren Kate. It’s along the same lines, sort of…lol. I just thought I’d mention it.
    I love the idea. Hope I can help. An idea is, those who have a love story in the works can possibly tweak it and submit a chapter based on those characters. Not sure that would work for you, or anybody, so I’m thinking out loud, but it could generate interest in finding out more about the time period romances.
    E6

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s a common dilemma. There might be 20 people who want to do a project like this, but because of time constraints or whatever, only 10 can figure out how to help. Of the 10, maybe a few don’t like the story or can’t work at the pace it’ll require – some reason it doesn’t work. So we need a lot of people in a lot of roles, but anyone who wants to help will be able to find a way to help.

      Kicking around ideas is the best part. Anything is possible. Maybe somebody wrote/is writing a contemporary romance, but maybe it can be tweaked to fit into an older story. I think so. So lots of existing writing can find a home, I think.

      Like

  4. I actually love the name Crazy Train Collective. LOL. Just imagine it, “I’m working on a story for the Crazy Train Collective right now.” LOL. Ozzy fans would be beating down our doors.
    In all seriousness, how clean are you wanting these love stories?
    What about a hippie/solidier love story from the 60’s? It’s certainly a culturally relevant issue right now. I’d make the woman the solidier though. The guy the hippie. They meet maybe in a volunteer program, the girl is serving out of the goodness of her heart between tours and the hippie is working off a deferred jail sentence. Their time together is limited to when they are volunteering. She goes back to war and he goes to canada to avoid the draft?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You may have to explain what you mean by “clean.” Right now everything is on the table. I don’t see romance as being graphic sexually, so some of the romance readers may have to clue me in on that, if that’s what clean refers to.

      As for hippies and soldiers, that’s fine. We need to float a time line out there so people can see where one life ends and another begins.

      For example, if the old lady in the nursing home is 85 and her story with the new nurse is roughly happening now, she was born around in 1930; she may not be able to be a college age protester in the 60’s – although she could just be a 30 year old protester – and does her story involve running into her soul mate twice in the same lifetime? I don’t know. She loved the 8 year old who died, that’s her soul mate. Those numbers could work, I just had considered her meeting him once each life, not twice, but that could work.

      And if it doesn’t work, we can move the time period if we have to. I’m sure there were protesters in WWII. In fact, that may have been much more unpopular to protest WWII. So that’s a story idea worth working with.

      Great suggestion! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m intrigued by “Nathan” and “Abagail” from 1849. I’ve always had a soft spot for reincarnation, souls meant to be together, sort of stories. I’d be thrilled to contribute in some way to that story!

    Equally intriguing is the idea of two women in that time frame, knowing they are drawn to each other, but afraid to examine/pursue their feelings. Once they do decide to do something about it, say come out publicly, they are killed for it. Their last words are ones of caring for the other.

    If the second option is not viable, I’d love to be considered for the first, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ALL options are on the table.

      For example, if we have two women, there were periods where that was crazy prohibited by society. That could be in WWII or in colonial times or Aztec Mexico. I believe – and I may be wrong – that the story of that can be lifted and dropped in whenever we want it.

      Also, since we are looking at reincarnation, it might not line up just because (A) we can only do so many stories and (B) people in the prior story need to die at the right time for the next story to start with characters the right age. That’s why killing them can work and also in one story they can be a student and a teacher, or an older marriage counselor and a young married person.

      Also, certain religions through time have been very strict about things, so they can be Catholics in 1600 and that stuff ain’t gonna fly in their small town.

      So, yeah, it’s all on the table. Great suggestion!

      Oh, and if – IF – by some strange reason it didn’t fit in this book because the times overlap and it won’t fit, who says we can’t have a companion book of just short stories that are of a similar theme? That might be a great idea for stories we can’t shoehorn in! But that’s not necessarily what I’m suggesting for your idea. Just freewheeling here.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I definitely want to write a chapter. I’ll go with what you outline or I can think of my own. If it isn’t good enough that’s OK I won’t cry. (Maybe just sob into my pillow) and/ or I could edit the other ones. Sounds like such a good idea I really want to contribute to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Not good enough.”

      Just stop that. Stop it right now.

      You forget, I’ve read your writing, missy! You have to be in this thing. We just need to find the right place. What stories intrigue you so far of the ones I’ve laid out? Or do you want to create one?

      I think a timeline of lives would help, but if we try to do one per century we’ll be okay. Then we don’t have to worry about them lining up.

      Like

      • Ok I’ll stop it. Did you mean one story per century or decade? If it’s century I’ll have to think about it. If it’s decade I have a few WW2 ideas. Since that’s always what I write about anyway.
        How about a couple who are engaged then he goes off to the war and she works in a hospital or maybe an ambulance driver like the Queen was. Then the ironic twist is that he survived all kinds of horrors knowing they can be together but she gets hit by a bomb or something. One that explodes on the beach when she’s walking and thinking about him.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I like it!

          Yeah, one per century, kind of, but only because we don’t want to have to kill them each time at age 25, you know? Most story ideas would fit in any setting. Your WWII idea would probably work in the war of 1812.

          Like

  7. My take on this … a scientist and his protege … a Nobel yearning … a maverick scientist who takes a young thing under his wing, nurtures her, lets her find herself, and he him, souls relate, dance their conduit to touch, roles switch she the mover, he the awkward, finding his way, led by her. I know my way around this, I know how scientists think, their vulnerabilities, the bonds they form, the taboo they live with, young with old, old with young. Time … anywhere between the 1960’s and now and in the future. Science so intense, passion always holds its hand .

    As for title, ‘Ethereal Touch’ … ‘Soul Horizons’ … ‘Hands Across Time’ … all crap I know but hey just trying to make the Crazy Train thing good!

    Cheers, Eric

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow that’s great the scientist thing. I can picture that very clearly as well as the characters. Maybe because I live by Cal Tech and I see those types running around all the time

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Annette … glad you see the picture. A different frame for me , I’m English live close to Oxford and London … we of that type tend to walk in the UK …. maybe it’s just our dodgy knees …

        Like

    • Ooh, I can see that story working in a lot of ways. And in different times, too. That’s an interesting note, that science and passion are so tightly intertwined. I would not have guessed that. Why is that? Elaborate for us unenlightened ones.

      Interesting title, too, Soul Horizons. I like “soul” being in there. That ties the theme well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just lifted this from my ‘About’ page … not a single word changed … a touch of enlightenment for now …

        ‘And here’s the thing, science is of the mind, the heart and of the soul, its human, scientists live and breathe and feel, as any writer, poet and musician, as any one of us, all part of humanity, all hearts sing, are pulled and twisted, tied in knots, all live by emotions, led by beliefs and conscience, it takes us all to make a planet worth living on.’

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Do all the stories have to appear in America? I really like the idea of reincarnating souls. Not sure if I could actually write anything but I always imagined two souls reincarnating around the world…I think I’m a hopeless romantic.
    This is such a great idea I’d like to help out in what ever way I can :).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I forgot to mention, the contemporary romantic fiction I’m currently writing has spread into parallel story lines, basically to use the material I have … but even so I’ve more words than I can use so could work something up, it would be an older guy younger woman scenario … again! My stuff is dialogue rich, internet message format, but could be adjusted to text, call, real time conversation, or maybe thoughts … where did that come from I like the idea of the latter! Could adjust the age gap, currently 20 to 25 years but could be reworked as say 10 to 15 years.

    I like some of your ideas Dan but you know me I don’t like to be inhibited!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, good question.

      I’d say the “old lady” chapter interspersed between the other stories would be 3000-5000, and most of the short stories would need a bit to get set up and running.

      The one where they meet when seeing a marriage counselor, that might only need 3000 words.

      The 1850’s one might need 15,000. It seems complex.

      So they’d vary. The outlines will dictate that, I guess.

      Great question. Maybe tomorrow I should recruit some help to make outlines.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I am absolutely loving this!! I have to be a part of this!! As I was reading through the post the first thing I thought of is connecting the nurse and the old lady in some way, and I love ladieswholunchreviews idea!!

    Probably being the most inexperienced writer here, I don’t know if I’ll be able to come up with a story myself, but please use me in whatever capacity is needed, collaborate, proof read, edit or if nothing else, I would be happy to beta read again. I just know the next couple of months are going to be hectic for me, but I know this project will take some time, and I don’t want to miss this opportunity, so much fun!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What am I doing here? Enthusiasm must be contagious!
    Here’s a thought
    American Civil War:
    There were instances (particularly in the Union Army) of women joining under the guise of young lads.
    There was quite a bit of fraternisation along the piquet lines when there was no fighting.
    So, maybe a southern lad out collecting water for his company chances upon the union girl-soldier and discovers her secret. He thinks it’s funny, she does too, they meet often on piquet duty, and love grows.
    Then the battle starts up, and their two companies collide in a fire-fight. One dies and the other is not sure if they were the one who shot them.
    Question for me (being brit), is if that notions sounds workable should I steer clear of using accents in the writing. I have read that can kill a story if you don’t get the accent just right and fall into parody (We all remember Dick van Dyke in ‘Mary Poppins’ over here)

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I think it could play on the common perception that old people are just old people, discounting the value of their memories and experiences. I know it’s not the case here (because the woman needs to be able to communicate), but you picture someone with dementia, barely able to function from one day to the next. It’s easy to just see an empty shell, like a rusty old car with no wheels or engine. Who looks at that smashed up mangled car at the scrap yard and thinks about the time it left the showroom, sparkling and new, or the time it hit 100 on the open road, what about the day two young lovers lost their virginity in the back seat, or the owners wife almost gave birth on the way to hospital? See what I mean? Who walks into a nursing home and sees the soul behind the confused old lady, or feels the emotions she felt on her long adventure through life?

    Do you see what I mean? Hopefully you get what I’m saying, this compilation would be a window to her adventures, and the title would have to reflect that, something like:

    Living in the past
    The adventures of life
    Young at heart
    Rich memories
    I remember
    Old woman, young heart

    Anyway, this made me think about the Leonardo Dicaprio Titanic film, told by the old woman, but you get so lost in her storytelling that you forget it’s a flashback.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. OK, if you need a diehard atheist attempting to pair with someone more spiritual, I may have some insight.

    But I totally call dibs on an animal chapter – a literal cat and mouse. Or bird, or something where one would normally be the predator of the other. GIT IN MAH BELLY

    Titles. Hmm. To get us thinking:

    A Marriage of Fate
    Happenstancial Evidence
    A Season of Serendipity
    The Ties that Wind
    The Multitude of Moirai
    Polydestiny

    OK those kind of suck but maybe that will generate something less sucktacular….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually wrote a dialog for the lovers where they discuss religion and question it, sensing they were taught what was the best people knew at the time, for unknowable answers. You’d love it. I may post it tomorrow. Anyway, it’s designed to plant the notion that reincarnation, not a western religious idea, may be correct and that other western ideas are suppressing what we feel in our spirits. One of the lovers takes one side, the other takes the other, and they converse respectfully because they are lovers, but it enters the ideas into the story for the reader.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I got a tingle with the words of one of your titles … albeit switched around … ‘The Wind that Ties’.

      It’s great what Dan has got going here … sparks and interactions … all within his space

      Liked by 2 people

  14. So is the general idea that these two belong together in each lifetime but for whatever circumstance they(or one of them) choose the path that leads them to separate? And it’s like they will meet again and again, reincarnated, until they stop following society or whatever and follow their hearts?

    On that note I had a weird idea about a witch far back during the time of the witch burnings and she loves the guy and he has to choose between his true feelings for her and what society or his religion tells him to do. He could even be the guy tasked with catching her and he has to decide whether to let her escape and live or send her to death…Weird idea from my love of medieval England. It might but lame idea, I haven’t written fiction in so long I don’t know what sounds good and what sounds bad anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Hi Dan. I’m reading this quite late, with too much noise in the background and a very long day, but I love the premise of the book. I’d like to read over your suggested outlines and all comments here to help me decide what to write. I definitely want to write, And tomorrow I’ll be back, perhaps with some title ideas. I’m usually quite good with those once I’ve got a good gist on the story. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. HI Dan. I’m sorry my head isn’t the game today to give feedback or ask questions I’ll want to know about the writing part, as I just received my MS back from my beta reader, I can’t fully concentrate on anything else today. But I wanted to offer a few potential titles I thought up last night for some food for thought: One hundred Years from Heaven(or however many years the book will span), If Once You Stayed, Soul Crossed Lovers, Two Hearts, One Heaven. Ok, something to ponder. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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