Fun Facts About "Stay Strong"

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is for anyone who has read my first novel, Stay Strong, in case you were curious about how far it has come since I started writing it at age 11. It's still a work in progress, and hopefully
will be on the road to publication soon. Enjoy! :)

Submitted: September 18, 2017

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Submitted: September 18, 2017



Fun Facts About "Stay Strong"


  • In the beginning, the original plot was about Ryan and Cody wanting to go to summer camp, but their plans were ruined with the diagnosis.

  • Jodi was originally spelled “Jody” until I realized it was too similar to “Cody.” In fact, it took me fricking ages to realize the names even rhymed.


  • At first, Jodi just had a “brain tumour” – it didn't have a specific name because I had no idea so many different types of brain tumours existed until I did research (see, research is good xD).


  • Shirley was originally run over by the car (I changed it because she most likely would have died) and Ryan fainted at the sight and awoke in the hospital.


  • Before I even began writing Stay Strong, Jodi was going to die at the end until I decided that it would be totally useless. Plus if I had gone along with it, I probably would have had an epic meltdown writing the scene.


  • In the previous draft, it was Jodi who went to heaven and saw her father, not Cody.


  • Michelle was originally Cody's roommate who had a rare kidney disease and a batshit crazy mother, who physically attacked Jodi (poor Jodi, I think she's endured the most change out of all the characters xD).


  • In the previous draft, Jodi was abducted from the playroom instead of having a seizure there, and she was rescued when the crazy dude's car hit a tree.


  • In the previous draft, Ryan was the only one attending school in the family because the rest of his siblings were forced to stay in the hospital.


  • Up until this final draft, the family's last name was Wabishkahak (yeah, lol, try pronouncing that), and the crazy name came from a street sign that I once saw and thought it said that.


  • Ryan has braces because eventually I will have to endure that pain, and I wondered what it would have been like to get them at his age.


  • Toward the end of the first completed draft (written when I was 12), when writing about the new friends Ryan had made, six was a random number I chose and their names were the first six that popped into my head.


  • The original title was “Staying Strong,” which I first thought of when I was 11, and decided to drop the “ing” when I was 12 because it sounded better.


  • Theresa never had a name, and was commonly referred to as “Ryan's mother.”


  • In the previous draft, there was a scene in which Tara tried to kiss Cody on the lips in the yard, and he slapped her in the face (by accident of course – he was flailing his arms to scare her off and it just sort of...happened xD)


  • There was a completed sequel I wrote when I was 12 called “Family Vacation” – it was about the family going on a three-week vacation because Cody, Jodi, and Shirley were each granted a wish from the Wish Foundation, and they all wanted to travel somewhere different (Hawaii, Bahamas, and Disney World). But while they were gone, a massive earthquake hit their hometown, but they couldn't make it back until the three weeks were up because of a contract Theresa had signed (I know, it was a bit of a train wreck).


  • Henrietta the Clown is based off a real clown I met at the children's hospital in Ottawa. She was blowing bubbles with three small boys in the waiting room, in attempt to calm one of them down, and she approached me afterwards with a few cheesy jokes and a sticker that read “URAQT” (hence the sticker Henrietta gave the kids in the novel reading the same thing).


  • I have restarted Stay Strong about seven different times because my computer would go apeshit on me and delete every draft I started, or I realized that it was totally pathetic and I would delete it myself.


  • The first completed draft had 8 chapters, the second had 16 chapters, and this final one has 37 chapters.


  • The idea for this story literally popped into my head when I woke up one morning at age 11, and after it basically wrote itself in my head, I rushed around the house for paper because if I didn't find any, I was going to explode.


  • The idea for Ryan playing baseball came when my brother joined baseball at age 10, and I saw how much fun all the kids had and thought it would be a perfect escape for Ryan.


  • In the previous drafts, Cody had this insane addiction to the game Checkers (which is now Spiderman).


  • When I first started writing Stay Strong, I knew absolutely nothing about cancer or brain tumours.


  • This story was also inspired by my cousin, who had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia a few months earlier.


  • Michelle and Cody originally weren't really friends – just roommates who hardly communicated at all, and Michelle was moved out to across the hall when Jodi became Cody's roommate.


  • Up until this draft, Shirley was hit by a car a week before school started instead of a week after school started.


  • Ryan's dad, Justin, originally didn't exist – he was just “gone,” and there was no mention of any father even existing until the very last paragraph of the sequel, when I decided it was necessary to know he had a father, since I had never even thought about it.


  • Michelle started out as an only child.


  • I got the last name “Wheldon” from a website – I desperately wanted to change their last name, so I Googled, “Last names that start with W,” found a list, and just selected one.


  • The towns Rockwood Village and Meadowview remained unnamed until this draft – they were just known as “their hometown” and “the town they were in now.”


  • Meadowview Children's Hospital was only known as “The Children's Hospital.”


  • The school Ryan and his siblings attend, Meadowview District Public School, was firstly named St. Claire Public School.


  • Before Shirley was hit by a car, there was no scene in which she and Ryan shared cookies with their grandparents; instead, they got bored and decided to go play soccer outside.


  • There was actually a scene in the previous draft where the top floor of the children's hospital was moved to an abandoned hospital due to mould, and there was a massive fire in the abandoned hospital that night, which made Ryan run back into the building to save his family so they wouldn't end up like his father.


  • Jodi used to have blue eyes, but I decided to change them to brown like the rest of the family because although it made her unique, there was absolutely no way she'd have blue eyes if both her parents and her entire family had brown eyes, due to genetics, I guess (which makes me kind of think if it's the same thing with Shirley having blond hair while everyone else has brown hair...idk).


  • There was a scene in which Rebekah (Aunt Mimi's “diva” nine-year-old daughter) attacked Shirley outside because of a disagreement in soccer, and an argument between Rebekah and Ryan followed.


  • I have had way too many beginnings to this story. From the very first draft to the last, here's the order of beginnings: packing for summer camp in Ryan's bedroom (which, in that draft, he did not share with Cody), coming back from the orthodontist after getting his braces a week before school ended, waking up and walking to school on the last day, standing at his locker on the last day of school, waking up and waking to school on the last day again, and finally, going to the beach.


  • Originally, Shirley's birthday was not anywhere in the novel.


  • Mike, the baseball coach that is a complete asshole, is based off a real coach my brother once had who took things way too seriously in the game, whereas Dan, the nice coach, is based off of other really nice coaches my brother has had, including my dad.


  • For a very brief moment in the very first stages of this novel, I considered what would happen if Ryan died in the end instead of any of his siblings ('cause that would be soooo unexpected), but immediately laughed at myself because that was ridiculous.


  • Ryan was originally really good at art.


  • Since the final draft that I posted on Booksie (which is technically not the final draft 'cause I'm currently editing the shit out of it and changing a bunch of stuff, but kinda is at the same time), Jodi no longer has a brain tumour, and instead just has epilepsy, but instead of finding out the diagnosis during the novel, they've already known since she was a baby that she's had it.


  • In the very first draft, the friends Ryan made at his new school were barely in the story, but they were still there.


  • In one of the drafts (honestly at this point, I don't even remember which one), Ryan used to have a friend from back in Rockwood named Rachel who was super batshit crazy and really mean.


  • Dr. Hiru, Dr. Yelena, and Nurse Beatrice originally didn't exist.


I wrote this a while ago and have since started adding points to it (and honestly I'll probably remember some more right after hitting the Publish button), but I really hope you enjoyed reading this! This novel means the world to me and I'm so proud of how far it has come over the years! :)

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