Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm Still Alive Through First Revisions

I'm still plunking through first revisions, which as I was warned by other authors is a little like re-writing the entire book. Here are some of the things I've changed in first "revisions":

My heroine went from working in a doctor's office to working in a cafe as a barista. She went from working with an older matronly woman to working with the owner of the cafe, a former runway model. I gave my heroine the "sidekick" she desperately needed.

Two supporting players changed. Instead of living near her parents, my heroine lives near her in-laws and there is no love lost between them. More conflict! The heroine's parents were kind and supportive, and while that is wonderful in real life it's just not interesting in a novel.

I added a minor character. The heroine is being chased by a man she is not interested in. More conflict!

On another note, I have experienced some health problems this year. Serious ones. In September I had a surgery which I'll blog about later. In case you were wondering why I'm still not finished one year after I started!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Have a Heart

Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, writes in The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives that her manuscript was rejected by 59 literary agents before it was finally accepted!

She talks about her persistence (i.e. stubbornness) and multiple re-writes as she continually changed and shaped her manuscript. Wouldn’t you like to know what the 60th agent saw in the manuscript that the other 59 did not? Could it be that Kathryn changed and improved the manuscript over the years to the point where it was a different book?

Wading through my own first revisions, these are the questions that I ask myself.

Susan Henderson, author of Up from the Blue has advice that has truly resonated with me. “Don’t edit the heart out of your story.”

As I revise my manuscript, changing the heroine’s occupation and thus part of the setting, and adding and deleting secondary characters I am reminded to keep the original vision of my story intact. One of my biggest problems is that this is not the story that I felt driven to complete. I worry at times that it never had a beating heart to begin with.

This story is more or less an experiment. I belonged to a writer’s group last year which encouraged me to finish something. At the time I had three novels in different stages of completion. I chose to finish this book because I thought it would be ummm, the easiest to complete!

As I wrote, it was not my intention to even attempt to write The Great American Novel. I was quite pragmatic and decided to target a particular publisher, a “niche” publisher. I hoped it would fit nicely into that little sub-genre. Now I’m not certain.

Is it best to target a particular publisher, or to follow your heart and write the story that you’re passionate about?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Novel is what?

An interesting thing happened on the way to finishing my first novel. I changed my mind. About a lot of "stuff" having to do with my protagonist. Still, I pressed on.

Then I finished it, and I don't like it. Oh, I DO like parts of it. But hey, if I'm not in love with the whole blessed thing, how can I expect anyone else to be? First revisions are going to be major. People weren't kidding when they warned me it's like an overhaul. I can see why.

By the time I'm done revising my protagonist, she will be unrecognizable. That is a good thing because somewhere along the way she turned into a whining "Poor me" victim instead of the strong and powerful woman I saw in my mind's eye.

Hold on, Maggie (that's my heroine's name), my red pen is coming!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Use Your Frustration for Inspiration

I was one of the people who watched the Anthony trial from start to finish. I was literally attached to the TV most of the day, fascinated by the evidence, impressed with DA Jeff Ashton's intense and skilled cross-examinations. Most of all, I'd fallen in love with that little girl, who reminded me so much of my own daughter at that age. I wanted desperately for justice for the person who threw her away like so much trash.

When the case went to the jury, I thought, "Whew, at last. Back to normal life. It should take them some time to deliver a verdict. This is, after all, a MURDER trial with over 300 pieces of evidence entered in over thirty days of testimony. No need to rush. I know I would want to get it RIGHT." Imagine my surprise when the jury came back in less than 11 hours with a verdict. Without a doubt I knew, as did everyone else, that they had not bothered to review the evidence. News later came in that they never even sent out any questions(oh, they did send out for lunch).

Like the rest of the country, I was outraged. But instead of vilifying the jurors, the defense attorney, and the accused I decided to turn my anger and frustration into creativity. Because I write, I started a story from the point of view of one of the jurors that has to go home and deal with the ramifications of her decision. Is it one she now regrets? Will she lose relationships with people she once loved because of her decision?

This story may not go anywhere, but it has been cathartic to write it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Among the Living

I wrote this short short about two years ago. It came to me, when I was thinking about how I believe we are all much better people when we recognize that we are all connected to each other. Unfortunately, we are still flesh and blood and wasn't it Paul that said, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak?" This story reminds me that there is more than one way to see life.

Among the Living

The Raiders versus Seahawks game had just gone into overtime the moment Jesse died. She knew this as she knew everything, when her soul lifted into the expanse and all ties were cut to the mortal world... Stay tuned to read the rest. Every Day Fiction asked me to revise and resubmit. Coming soon to a Kindle near you?