Building a series lexicon with J.P. Barnaby
Please welcome J.P Barnaby, a friend and the author of the well-received Little Boy Lostseries. Little Boy Lost is a coming of age story about two teenage boys—Brian McAllister and Jamie Mayfield—growing up gay in rural Alabama. The six book series chronicles their lives as they navigate through peers, parents, and porn, desperately searching for the perfect combination of circumstances in which they can be together. Through their journey, they find friends, pain, acceptance, loss, and most importantly, themselves.
Reviews for Little Boy Lost
This is a compulsively readable book. I sat down with it the other day, intending just to skim it for this re-review, but within a few pages I was pulled completely into the story just like I was last year. Brian and Jamie are wonderful characters, beautifully drawn and realized. They experience the wonder and excitement of their first love, going through each step: a touch, a kiss, an embrace, and more. At the same time, they are terrified of what might happen to them should anyone find out about their relationship. They live in a very small town in Alabama where faggot jokes and homophobia are the norm. How do they reconcile their feelings for each other with the reality of the time and place in which they are living? – JesseWave
What this author does in ABANDONED is just amazing, it is a pure and honest kind of writing that bares the soul of a seventeen, going on eighteen year old. It offers the worst of circumstances in which various forms of love can ignite, nourish and inspire Brian on his journey. I never expected to experience such a strong connection to the person Brian is. I’m still amazed by it and savoring it every chance I get. ABADONED blew me away as J.P. Barnaby continues the story of memorable characters who just go for your heart. This is just about as good as it gets in the M/M genre! – Leontine’s Book Realm
First things first, what is a lexicon?
The first example of a lexicon that comes to mind, and honestly the best I’ve ever seen, is the Harry Potter Lexicon (http://www.hp-lexicon.org/). It details every character, every spell, every location, every bit of information that J. K. Rowling wrote into her amazing series. But, their lexicon went beyond that. It also includes all of the secret, beautiful, unpublished tidbits that were released through interviews or on her website. Literally everything you want to know about the series, you can find on that site. It’s so comprehensive that J. K. Rowling admitted that she sometimes used it while writing the later books to reference a detail or two.
Why is a lexicon important?
Little Boy Lost is a six book series that follows the same two boys. It’s not a series of spinoffs, though spinoffs certainly benefit from detail continuity. Brian and Jamie along with their friends, family, environments, and timeline have to flow seamlessly from one book to the next in order to keep the reader engaged. Key points in a character’s personality and appearance need to be reinforced so that the reader can keep six books full of characters straight. In the Harry Potter series, you would never confuse Neville Longbottom with Dean Thomas because the detailing on each character is so well done. If your book is going to continue into another, you need to have your facts at your fingertips.
The Little Boy Lost lexicon
The Little Boy Lost lexicon is kept hidden from the world on my laptop in Microsoft OneNote 2010. More important, it is also backed up to the hilt. As an IT professional, I understand the importance of keeping my computer backed up and my information safe. As an author, this is especially important for recordkeeping and legal purposes as well as keeping safe the thousands of hours I’ve invested in my work. I use Microsoft OneNote because I don’t have the time or patience to develop a website for it. OneNote is drag/drop, copy/paste, and web clip efficient. I can put in pictures, voice, video, or text. If I copy something from the internet, it automatically adds a reference to where I found it. The notebook/tab/page structure of the program is conducive to research, and it’s fully searchable.
As you can see from the image, the Little Boy Lost lexicon includes tabs for character information, an events timeline, ideas, and research that would pertain to the entire series and then a tab for each individual book with more detailed timelines, and other information that pertains only to that book (for example, Brian’s injuries in Abandoned which are referenced later in the series, but all of the medical research is in the tab for Abandoned). I have pictures of each character and a full biography, some of which is never used within the book, but it gives me a better sense of who the character is and how he will react in any given situation. I have a notebook like this for each book, each series that I work on.
I write in Microsoft Word, but I keep a copy of the original scene inside of OneNote to make things easier to find. I may not know what chapter something is in, but I can usually find it faster by looking at the scene titles. When I’m working on a book, I generally write out of chronological order, sketching out scenes as they come to me. I keep that outline, partial scenes, and sketched out ideas in OneNote as well. Again, some of the stuff may never be used, but when I need to reference it, the information is all in one place. My life has suddenly become very busy and I find that writing is easier when I’m hyper-organized.
With the notebooks for each book in my Windows Live account, I can access them anywhere from any device. There is a mobile app for my phone, a web interface, and of course the actual OneNote application on my computer. That is extremely helpful to me since I do most of my writing on my commute with limited internet access on my phone. It also helps when I get an idea and want to capture it—I can just pull out my phone, and add the appropriate notes to my notebook or put it in a note on my phone and copy it to OneNote later. I can also record voice notes on my phone and load them into OneNote.
Continuity is part of the editorial process with Dreamspinner Press who publishes the Little Boy Lost series, but they don’t live the series like I do. If I need to know what Micah’s brother’s name is for a spinoff book, I won’t have to try to remember which book I used it in so that I can find it. I introduced Micah in the third book and he has a strong presence through to book six. That information is one word within 255,000 words. Having it at my fingertip is far easier than an all out search.
About J. P. Barnaby
As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
The Little Boy Lost blog tour continues June 25th – July 24th . Make sure to comment at each stop for more chances to win some really great prizes such as an entire series autographed to you by J. P. Barnaby. For additional entries – tweet about the tour including @JPBarnaby and #LittleBoyLost.
Tour Schedule: http://www.jpbarnaby.com/?p=637