And Down Goes My Sinking Heart

As some of you may have noticed I haven’t posted much of my fiction lately, which is mostly due to me throwing myself headlong into a new novel concept. I’ve been so excited that I haven’t even talked about it to anyone!

The premise is that a daughter and her recently divorced mom move from Nebraska to Otter Rock, a small, unincorporated community on the Oregon Coast.  They buy and start to run a Bed and Breakfast there, in hopes of starting fresh.  It explores coming to terms with your past, and who you’ve become, as well as the intricacies of relationships, especially between a mother and daughter.  The oceanic setting weighs heavily within the book.  Tentatively titled “We Are The Tide”.

I was just browsing books on my kindle and came across an upcoming book that’s on pre-order called The Inn of Rose Harbor.  Here’s what the description says:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber comes a heartwarming new series based in the Pacific Northwest town of Cedar Cove, where a charming cast of characters finds love, forgiveness, and renewal behind the doors of the cozy Rose Harbor Inn.

Jo Marie Rose first arrives in Cedar Cove seeking a sense of peace and a fresh start.  Coping with the death of her husband, she purchases a local bed-and-breakfast- the newly christened Rose Harbor Inn-ready to begin her life anew.  Yet the inn holds more surprises than Jo Marie can imagine…

There is more to the description on amazon, so I know our novels start to differ quite a bit after that. So I guess it is a bit comforting knowing that only the beginnings are similar.  Still, I had this moment of woe, and if my boyfriend wasn’t sleeping I’m sure I would have cried out, “SAY IT AIN’T SO!!!”

They’re both set in a small Pacific Northwest town on the coast, and a woman buys a B&B to try to get over her former husband, and start afresh.

I realize there are plenty of similar genre-books out there, and things like this just can’t be helped.  Characters, writing style, and the mood of the books will always be different and unique to the writer.  But it’s still so disheartening to see it for the first time when you’re completely gung-ho about the new project.

But you know what? I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.  I’m confidant in our differences, and if my gut tells me to write a story, then you can bet I’m going to damn well write that story!  I won’t even touch that other book until I finish my novel.  I would hate to see it influence me, or dissuade me from certain elements in my writing.

So tell me, have you guys ever encountered an eerily similar idea to yours?  How did you handle it, and did you end up tweaking your idea to differentiate yours?



About Aly Hughes
Unprofessional, unedited, unpublished. Aly is out to make a name for herself by blogging, twittering, facebooking, and general internet-ing. Be warned: She may not know what she's talking about.

11 Responses to And Down Goes My Sinking Heart

  1. On the positive side to this you can watch the book sales and see how friendly the market is for a story like yours. If it does well you know that yours will. I think you are right to think that each story, even if they share a common premise, have different writers and are not 100% always the same. My novel’s premise has a common story: forbbiden love. However, with the help of friends I’ve added a main element that I have not read yet in a Historical Fiction. You already have one major difference in that your book has a daughter involved. Your market will only increase to mothers with teenage daughters going through the pain of the divorce too. Good luck and happy writing!

    • Aly Hughes says:

      That’s a very good point, it will be interesting to see how well it does, and hey, if it gets a few negative or so-so reviews, I can learn from them and apply it in the editing stage. And I love that you’ve been able to make it your own. It’s like adding your own flare to the story, which is definitely what makes all stories different. And it also helps that my book is written from the teenage daughters PoV, which does add a whole different element and ‘mood’ to the writing. Thank you so much for the positive words!

  2. Sara Flower says:

    See, there you go. Your story involves a daughter which adds a whole new dynamic to the story. Add in a different writing style and mood and you really have two different books, even if they may start out similar.

    With my novel By the Sword, I tried to overcome the writing stereotypes of a YA fantasy story starring a female warrior by giving her realistic limitations for her build, eliminating mushy romance scenes, etc.

    I like how driven you are! I am glad that you are sticking to it, because the premise sounds so intriguing. I am looking forward to reading it when the time comes. 🙂

    • Aly Hughes says:

      Yes! I’m about a quarter of the way through your book, and in the opening fighting scenes I definitely noticed that she wasn’t a petite girl who could suddenly bench press an ox! Which I loved 🙂

      Thank you for the kind words! I think mine will hold a much different experience for readers as well, because it’s written from the daughter’s perspective. Now that I think about it, that will probably broaden the amount of readers it will appeal to. It’s just that writer’s fear of being original and writing something that will be special and unique to people. 🙂

  3. I wouldn’t worry about i. Shakespeare “borrowed” most of his plots, and he was pretty succesful. 🙂

    I’ve talked on my blog about the classic mystery novels I’ve taken elements from, but I don’t think anybody would confuse me with John Dickson Carr or S. S. van Dyne.

    And, from what I’ve read, these days publishers want you to be able to point to published novels that your project is similar to.

    • Aly Hughes says:

      Thank you for the support! I think what bummed me out the most was that I wasn’t even inspired by/emulating/aware of this other book until after my developed idea. Particularly because I’m still so new to this, it just hit me really hard that there was something very similar in the works, as we speak. But I’ve gotten over the worst of it! 😉

  4. amhudlow says:

    For the last few years, I have been writing a novel about a girl who dies and goes to Hell, but all is not as it appears. The other day I was browsing and I came across Chuck Palahniuk’s new novel Damned, which is also about a girl who dies and goes to Hell. While they are drastically different in plot, the similarities were close enough to severely bother me.

    However, when I sat down and looked that the two books side by side, I truly saw how different they were from each other and I have decided to continue on with my novel because I believe it to be the superior story.

    • Aly Hughes says:

      That’s how I am at this point! I feel like my novel covers different relationship aspects and themes than the other novel, even if the general premise is the same. I’m glad you’re continuing your novel as well! 🙂

  5. while working on revisions of a middle grade book a few years ago, a movie came out with almost the exact same title. i totally freaked, but then my critique group helped peel me off the ceiling and realize that you shouldn’t become too attached to your titles in the first place. editors can change titles and often do. the plots were not at all similar – only the setting.

    i think you are right to ignore reading the other book until you finish writing your own story first.

  6. It’s not happened to me….yet, but it has to a friend. For Nano 2011 she wrote 16000 words of a story about 4 friends who go on a cruise holiday, to find themselves. Then last month someone told her it had already been done by Milly Johnson. She bought the book to see, and yep, it’s actually the same idea, albeit the characters are younger 😦 It’s really put her off finishing her story.


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