Saturday, June 30, 2007

Southern Charm

I love living in the South, but I never really appreciated it until I moved away. While away, I missed a lot of things about southern living, but I think, more than anything, I missed the expressions.

My grandmother had some marvelous sayings, but when I was younger, I didn't really pay attention to them. Now that she's gone, I wish so much that I'd written them down.

Here are some of the ones I remember:

"I've got a bone in my leg." No, I never understood why she said this, but she said it a lot.

"My get up and go has done got up and went." The older I get, the more I understand this one.

"Sugar foot, molasses and sassafras tea." This was my grandmother's favorite way to curse.

My husband is pure southern, but grew up in Tennessee. They have different sayings there. Here's some of his:

"Well, I'll swan." I have no idea what this is, and I keep waiting for him to do it.

"You don't know beans from apple butter." No, he'd never dare say that to me!

When he was a child, his mother used to say, "Jim, I've never seen your equal." For years, Jim thought she said eagle; he said he looked everywhere for that eagle.

My favorites? Well, funnily enough, I don't really pay attention to saying them. I do know I say:

"Well, bless your heart." But what true southerner doesn't?

"Heavens to Betsy." Have no idea what this means, but used to say it all the time. I don't even know anyone named Betsy.

So, what about you? What are your favorite southern sayings? Do you know their origins or are you like me and you just grew up with them?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Eggs for Brains


For the past three months, my work buddies and I have been playing Scrabble during lunch. It started with me and my pal, Sande. We asked others if they wanted to join in on the fun and we were surprised to find several people had never played. As the days went by people would stop, lean over our shoulders and offer their advice. Of course, we had to stop that. If you want to play, sit down and play. Otherwise, zip your lip and watch. :::smile::: Kinda like put up or shut up.


We started out with a lot of three letter words. Guess who spelled SEX often. Later we began making longer words. I’m not sure if the game brought in players as much as our laughing. After the board is covered with words, we make up stories. Like the BIG MAN THROWS BATS in the STORE. Sometimes we get naughty with our combinations. I’ll let your imagination figure out the possibilities.

Of course, you’re probably wondering how often I won. Well, just like cards, it’s partly tied up with the draw of the tiles. If you pull mostly vowels (we call it talking Hawaiian), that’s not too bad. But heaven forbid if you pull consonants (we call it talking Russian). It can be discouraging. But I’m the wordsmith. I should win. Don’t I wish.

One thing we do that amazes people is at the end of each game we help each other use the last of the drawn letters. To us, finding that last hidden word is more fun than winning.

What are some of your favorite board games? Have you ever played Scrabble? And what word did you catch yourself spelling all the time?

BTW, the title of this blog is in reference to my bad habit of calling the game Scramble. Sande tells me the game has done that to our brains. LOL!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Questions on queries?

Southern Magic held a wonderful all-day workshop on Saturday. I really enjoyed Carla's talk on The Writer's Journey (I rushed right into the Homewood Library to check it out but the library didn't have it; turns out I have a copy at home that I've never read *eye roll*), Jason's talk on medieval weapons (I doubt I'll ever write a historical, but as Jason says, Scotsmen and their knives are just cool), Lyn's account of being newly published (you go girl), and Tammy's glimpse into a bookseller's world.

My talk was on query letters. I thought I'd offer a short recap here in case you weren't able to come the workshop and are getting your feet wet submitting manuscripts to editors and agents. This is just my opinion, yo. Cross-check with what other people have to say about writing these little devils.

My agent is Caren Johnson. If I were still searching for an agent, here's the letter I'd write to her about my new novel, THE BOYS NEXT DOOR. (The middle part is straight from the back of the book because, as I discussed during my talk, Simon & Schuster's summary of the book is better than mine was.) This is formatted as if I were sending it over e-mail, which is what Caren wants. If the agent wanted snail-mail queries, I'd format it like a business letter. Either way, it should be about one page long (some people say two is okay; I say you should hook them in one).


♥ ♥ ♥

Dear Ms. Johnson:

I am seeking representation for my YA and adult romantic comedies. I saw on PublishersMarketplace.com that you have recently sold adult romantic comedies for Kelley St. John and YA novels for Caridad Ferrer. I thought you might be interested in my latest manuscript, THE BOYS NEXT DOOR. It's a YA romantic comedy of about 65,000 words. Working the summer at a marina near her lakeside home, a high school junior pretends to date the boy next door to catch his older brother, her childhood crush.

Lori lives for summertime at her family's lake house. She spends all season wakeboarding, swimming, and hanging with her friends—including the two hotties in the cabin next door. With the Vader brothers, Lori's always been one of the guys.

But while Lori and the "baby" brother, Adam, are inseparable friends, she can't deny a secret crush on Sean, the older Vader boy. This year Sean's been paying Lori a lot of attention, and not in a brotherly way.

But just as Lori decides to prove to Sean she's girlfriend material, she realizes that her role as girl friend to Adam may be even more important. And by trying so hard for the perfect summer romance, she could be going way overboard...

My first novel, MAJOR CRUSH, about a beauty queen turned band geek in a small Southern town, was published in 2006 as part of the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies series. I also work as a freelance copyeditor of medical journal articles.

Thank you for your time, Ms. Johnson. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Echols
(contact info goes here)

♥ ♥ ♥

Here's how it breaks down:

1. First paragraph: the agent (or editor)

At first glance this paragraph seems to be about your book. Actually it's about the agent, and how your book fits the interests of the agent. Here are some questions you should answer in this paragraph:

A. What do you want?

I am seeking representation for my YA and adult romantic comedies.

B. Why are you querying this agent? Show you have done your homework (without seeming like a stalker). Let the agent know you have not just picked her name at random out of a book. You have researched her and think that the two of you would make a great team.

I saw on PublishersMarketplace.com that you have recently sold adult romantic comedies for Kelley St. John and YA novels for Caridad Ferrer.

Ideas for how to get information about what the agent wants:
-Agent web sites
-PublishersMarketplace.com--deals postings and member pages; you must pay $20/month for access to the deals postings, but you can sign up for one month, do your research, and cancel your membership
-http://www.rwanational.org/, Members Only, Industry Resources, Agent Update
-Issues of Romance Writers Report
-Acknowledgments pages in published novels
-You have met the agent
-You have queried the agent before and she asked you to send her your next project
DON’T RELY ON ONE RESOURCE! CROSS-CHECK!

C. How does your manuscript match the agent’s interests?

-Title - I thought you might be interested in my latest manuscript, THE BOYS NEXT DOOR.
-Genre - It's a YA romantic comedy
-Length - of about 65,000 words. (KNOW THE APPROPRIATE LENGTH AND DO NOT QUERY IF YOUR BOOK DOESN’T MATCH IT.)
-Hook - Working the summer at a marina near her lakeside home, a high school junior pretends to date the boy next door to catch his older brother, her childhood crush.


2. Middle paragraphs: the book

These paragraphs should look like the descriptions on the backs of published books. Consult current books in your genre. Note that to capture the reader's interest, these descriptions often feature the main characters' goal, motivation and conflict (GMC). If your book is told in alternating points of view of the heroine and hero, you may have a paragraph for each of them with their individual GMCs. THE BOYS NEXT DOOR is told solely from the point of view of the heroine, so the entire summary is her GMC.

Dixon, Debra. GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction. Memphis, TN: Gryphon Books for Writers; 1996.

-Goal - just as Lori decides to prove to Sean she's girlfriend material

-Motivation - she can't deny a secret crush on Sean, the older Vader boy

-Conflict - she realizes that her role as girl friend to Adam may be even more important.


3. Last paragraph: you

Give the agent the impression that you are serious about your writing. Agents and editors want to work with people who can take criticism, get their revision in on time and get to work on that next book.

Ideas:
-Previous book sales with dates and hooks.
-Other writing experience.
-Contest finals/wins.
-Membership and involvement in professional writers’ organizations.
-Degrees if they seem relevant; people seem divided on whether agents and editors are impressed or turned off by an English degree. Having one doesn't mean you can write, and we all know great writers with no degree (Nora).
-How many unpublished manuscripts are under your bed...maybe not? I have seen people recommend this line for a query letter, but I don't go around telling just anybody that my first sale was my tenth manuscript. It might be better to stress your dedication to the craft rather than citing a number.
-Specialized knowledge or experience that enabled you to write this book.
-Hooky personal info (no pets). Good example: "I used to work for NASA." (Kelley is too cool!)

♥ ♥ ♥

If you're querying an editor rather than an agent, the same principles apply. You may not be able to research what the editor likes personally, but you should know, for instance, that your book is a Harlequin Blaze rather than a Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Query the editor who actually buys for that line. Your word count should be correct for that line.

I'd be happy to answer your questions here but frankly I don't know why you would ask me anything when you can ask Caren Johnson herself on her blog. She would love to hear from you.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Teen writers

Hey all! I had a really good time yesterday at the workshop. If you missed it, you missed out on some really good information. And thanks to Jason, I watched "Kull" twice since last night.;-) The first time just to watch for the weapons used and the second just to see Kevin Sorbo again - yes, I have my own DVD.


Anyhoo...at the library this summer we are trying to get the teens involved with activities. Anything we can think of to get them back into the library. We have a great lineup of programs on Wednesday afternoons and a chess club that meets right after the program each week. It started off slow in the beginning of June but last week we had 20 kids show up! We also have a Detective Camp going on through next week. A detective and youth police officer from our local department voluneetered to do this camp. The kids learn first hand what officers must do step by step at a crime scene. This coming week, we are going to have a burglery at the library then the kids will go to the courthouse to have a trial.


Anyway...I do have some kids who seem to be interested in writing and we have a mystery writing contest this summer but the submittions are very low. How can I get these kids started in writing? I have a few links on the library's website - http://www.appl.info/writingsites.htm but haven't had too many hits on it. Any suggestions??

Thanks. ;-)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Just Shoot Me

Yesterday was my day to blog and I forgot. Again! So, after a rotton day, I now have to be witty or write something catchy.

I always spend Saturday mornings with my two aunts. Of eight children, they are the only two of my mother's siblings living. We go to one aunt's house around 9:00 and visit, then at 11:00 go to Fire Mountain for lunch. Today I decided to zip down to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. I hate WM on Saturdays to begin with.

I zip out, put my groceries, including ice cream, in the car and go to leave. Nada! Not one little peep from the engine. David arrives and the hood doesn't want to open. Finally, get it open. 30-45 minutes later, it's cranked with his van and battery cables. Drenched in sweat, a pulsing headache, and melting ice cream, I drive home. So, you can see why I'm not feeling very writerly.

I think I'll go watch the DVD I received from Netflix. I've seen SUMMER MAGIC before. It's a nice little Walt Disney film from 1963 with Hayley Mills. It's enjoyable and doesn't require a lot of thought. HM and her mother and brothers experience financial hardship and move to Maine from Boston. The friendly postmaster lets them move into a rundown house whose owners are in Europe. Of course, he doesn't tell that he doesn't have their permission. HM's snooty cousin arrives and then the owner, who just happens to be a handsome young man.

What movie have your watched recently?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Leaping

I sit here staring at the screen and I am dumbfounded. (Not hard, if you know me and have prevented me from having my morning caffeine). Still, its a blank page. It reminds me a bit when I was in art school--you stare at that blank canvas and wonder....what am I going to do? Where am I going to start? and what if I mess it up? Does that mean I have to start over? (of course this leads to--do I have to buy new canvas, etc...but that's another story.)



Then, like with anything, you have to step off. Take that leap of faith (or in my case, blindly jumping and hoping I don't hit a prickly bush). OK, I'd like to say that every time I do I land on my feet. Nope. I usually find mud. What I do find is the fun of just doing it--jumping off and writing.



Yes, I do hide a lot of my first attempts (a lot like those first drawings and paintings). Sometimes I don't, and this is one of those times. I am leaping out there--writing and just letting it happen.



Take a chance, have fun. Write something different, throw in a new character, just have fun. Like with this post--I took a leap.



What will you do to day that's a leap? (hey, I'll even take a hop)
Now where did I put my coffee...

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Work in Progress or a Big, Old, Ugly Mess?

The title says it all. Every time I start a new project, that's the way I feel. That it's this huge, out of control blob of words without form or meaning.

When I sit down to write, I do so with the clear intent of putting into words what I see in my head. Yet I often feel as though I've failed. Questioning every word, I struggle with silly things that don't amount to anything until I'm finished. Still I continue to agonize. I know better than to do this...I've been through this before. My first draft is going to be messy, full of mistakes and problems. I know this and yet I torture myself.

Other times, I feel as though I'm a sculptor and every word has been chiseled from my imagination. Every stroke and gouge physically hurts.

And then, there are those precious, fleeting times of sheer wonder and incredulity when I type a word, sentence or paragraph and I realize it's exactly what I meant to say, denoting the emotion, intensity or suspense in the just way I wanted.

In that moment of joy, I am at peace. All is right with my little creative world and I see value and worth to my endeavors. I go to sleep with a fulfilment and rightness that only writing can bring for me.

The next day, sad to say, I often begin anew, with all the angst, worry and doubt I had the day before. And I search, frantically sometimes, for that fleeting happiness, beautiful...seductive... elusive. Sometimes I find it, sometimes not, but I will always search. Why? Because it's what I am.

How about you? Do you sometimes agonize over every word and phrase? Does your work in progress ever seem shapeless and formless?

Or do you just think I'm in need of intense psychological counseling?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Reminder - Workshop this coming Saturday

Permission granted to forward.

Southern Magic would love for you to come.

FULL DAY WRITERS' WORKSHOP
Cost $5 SM members and $10 for visitors - pay at the door.

10 am - Overview of the Writers' Journey - Carla Swafford
10:30 am - Query Letters - Jennifer Echols
11:30 am - HOT DOG LUNCH included!!
12:30 pm - Medieval Weaponry - Jason McLane, SCA
1 pm - Being Newly Published - Lyn Randal
2 pm - Bookseller's Insights - Tammy Lynn

When: Saturday, June 23, 2007, 10 am to 3 pm
Where: Homewood Public Library, Auditorium, Birmingham, AL
Directions at www.southernmagic.org

Schedule/presenters may change without notice

Email Carla Swafford president@southernmagic.org to let her know if you plan to attend.

About the presenters:
Jennifer Echols - Multi-published author and National Readers' Choice Awards Finalist
Lyn Randal - Mutli-published author and former contest diva
Tammy Lynn - Owner of Tammy's Book Basket in Wetumpka, AL
Jason McLane - member of the Society for Creative Anachronism
Carla Swafford - insightful president of Southern Magic (they couldn't tell me no)

Friday, June 15, 2007

And She Said What?

I know that several of us keep quotes on our desks to encourage us in our writing. Mine is from Helen Keller (American Writer), "Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles."

She was deaf and blind, and born in Tuscumbia, Alabama (Hi, Beverly!). Even with the two handicaps, she graduated from Radcliffe College with honors and wrote (actually typed) at least seven books. I figure since I have my hearing and sight, I should achieve my goal with fewer hardships. Thinking positive here.

Another quote I came across the other day, I sent to a friend to encourage her. It’s from Stephen King’s ON WRITING, "...the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel sh** from a sitting position."

Another quote I like, not for inspiration but more for a point, from Mr. King is "It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true." Then he goes on to write, "If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." I knew I would find an excuse out there for reading so many books.

And now for a couple short ones...

"Even in the midst of love-making, writers are working on the description." Mason Cooley, U.S. aphorist.

"Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." Carrie Fisher.

What are some of your favorites?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Blast from the past

I've been thinking a lot lately about Cathi, my best friend from high school. She now lives in New York City, but she's coming down to Alabama for our 20th class reunion (cue horror movie music--20 YEARS!!!) this weekend. Also, she's getting married in NYC in the fall, and my mom and I are throwing a bridal tea for her while she's down. She's getting married in a red dress and plans to spin fire for all the guests on the roof after the ceremony. My parents want to know whether she plans to spin fire out in the field at the bridal tea. I have told them it's been so dry here lately, we'd probably have to get a special permit from the fire marshal.

As you might have guessed, Cathi is the inspiration for a lot of my characters. She's the idea behind the heroine who has an artsy professional job in New York and dyes her hair pink, the heroine who settles down a lot later than everyone else because she's not through traveling, the heroine who comes from multiple broken homes and blended families and seems to emerge from it all okay. But she's also the inspiration behind my nascent writing career. In junior high we found we were kindred spirits fascinated by stories. We would stay up until the wee hours on weekends, drinking Coke, taking turns jumping on the mini-trampoline in my room, and talking out how we would re-write Lois Duncan YA romantic suspense novels starring the real boys we had crushes on. I think it was during those marathon sessions that I first got the sense that the majority of writing a novel is "setting it up"--certain things need to go a certain way for other things to fall into place. And I first got the sense that this was something I could do. In other words, that's when I became a writer.

How about you? Do you have early influences who made you the writer you are today?

Time Un-Management

Hi all!!! I need some help!!

I have a problem with time management. I've always known about this little teeny weeny problem but have been able to live with it for some time...until recently. Let me share this example: When my turn on the blog has come - and gone - Carla, bless her, sends me a gentle reminder about the post. In fact, I found one in my mailbox this morning. I, in turn, send her this reply-can you tell I'm chewing myself out right now???
Well, crap. I am sooo not trustworthy right now. It's on my calendar, on my idiot reminder task list that dings at me, and I even thought of things I could write about this weekend, but did I remember to do it last night??? NNNoooooooo.....I was too busy working on that %^&*# synopsis.
-sigh- oh well. I promise to get something posted this morning.


It's not that I don't want to post - I do - it's just that my mind can't wrap around the blogging date right now. Does that make sense?

This is my life right now: I'm over the summer reading program at the library where we have something going on every day of the work week. In fact yesterday we had around 150 children (at three different times). I also get home late 3-4 nights a week from practices, meetings, etc. I also have a cross stitch I'm trying to finish for a friend as well as a baby blanket for another. I also have to have my reading time each night - it's a drug. I'm writing in my head but never really have time to put it on paper - well, extra in church when I should be listening to preacher man. But I can't help it if my mind wonders!!!

Anyhoo, I don't have any children (except for 3 cats who all think that when I'm writing I should be paying attention to them) nor do I have a husband/boyfriend - I'm trying to work on the boyfriend thing. I really don't have a lot of distractions right now. So, my questions to you are: How do you manage your time? Do you make a list of things that MUST be done during the day? How do you stay on track? Any advice out there??

Thanks,
Barb ;-)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What Makes a Woman Beautiful?

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
Proverbs 31:30

You can probably see this blog has started out a bit different. Today's world puts tremendous emphasis on beauty, thinness, and youth. And celebrity. On Friday EVERY tv station was talking about Paris Hilton's travails. Poor little rich girl doesn't want to take responsibility for her actions.

Women get botox and plastic surgery at the drop of a hat. And the tragedy is that those pictures we compare ourselves to, aren't even real. They're retouched and airbrushed. No woman can attain that. No matter that the Bible tells us beauty is vanity. First Peter 3:3-4 tells us to concentrate on our inner beauty.

Somewhere along the way inner beauty has become insignificant. How we treat others has no importance. It's become a me, me, me society.

Well, I'm off to church to praise God and work on my inner beauty.

What do you think makes a woman beautiful?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Southern Magic Workshop

Permission granted to forward.

Southern Magic would love for you to come.

FULL DAY WRITERS' WORKSHOP
Cost $5 SM members and $10 for visitors - pay at the door.

10 am - Overview of the Writers' Journey - Carla Swafford
10:30 am - Query Letters - Jennifer Echols
11:30 am - HOT DOG LUNCH included!!
12:30 pm - Medieval Weaponry - Jason McLane, SCA
1 pm - Being Newly Published - Lyn Randal
2 pm - Bookseller's Insights - Tammy Lynn

When: Saturday, June 23, 2007, 10 am to 3 pm
Where: Homewood Public Library, Auditorium, Birmingham, AL
Directions at http://www.southernmagic.org/

Schedule/presenters may change without notice

Email Carla Swafford president@southernmagic.org to let her know if you plan to attend.

About the presenters:
Jennifer Echols - Multi-published author and National Readers' Choice Awards Finalist
Lyn Randal - Multi-published author and former contest diva
Tammy Lynn - Owner of Tammy's Book Basket in Wetumpka, AL
Jason McLane - member of the Society for Creative Anachronism
Carla Swafford - insightful president of Southern Magic (they couldn't tell me no)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Writer's Hell

Today, I stared at a blank page. My glorious comments, witty insights gone and worse, I couldn’t even make a decision on WHAT to write about. That’s when it hit me; I am walking one of the outer rings of writer’s hell.

It’s the Dante’s Inferno for writers. Levels of hell that every writer experiences. I have encountered six, and that’s just with writing…once you get published, or you seriously try to get published then whole other levels of hell open up.

Worse, they occur at different times, you don’t just fight through one, you sometimes double back and fall right into the same thing. Me, its decisions, but other rings of hell include, time, distractions, frustration, plotting (well that’s just a side note of decision hell), and insecurity (here questions of why am I doing this? and is it worth it? are particularly horrific tortures).

It’s a constant battle I wage. I strap on my pen, (ok, my computer) I sit down and the battle is on. Do I win? Sometimes and many times I lose, only to get up the next day ready to fight again. Why do I walk through writer’s hell? It is the salvation that calls me: A completed manuscript. A story idea mapped out. Even better, a story that is published—that you actually get paid for. But the ultimate prize is: You write a story someone wants to keep reading…in spite of the typos. Bliss.

So what kind of writer’s hell are you in today? How do you fight it?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name...

I think one of the coolest things about writing is all the dreaming I get to do. Not just the stories, but the other stuff. You know what I'm talking about. All the people you'll thank for helping you along the way, the dedication page where you'll thank your husband, wife or significant other for believing in you when you stopped believing in yourself. What your first review will say...4 1/2 stars! Phenomenal talent. Okay yeah, I'm a BIG dreamer.

One of the most frustrating but fun things I've dreamed about is pseudonyms. For various reasons, I don't intend to use my real name, but what should I use? I liked the idea of using my first name and my husband's first name...James as a last name just sounds good to me. But wait, there's already someone with a website with that name...real estate or something. So, I thought St. James. Admittedly I'm giving my husband a little more credit than might be appropriate, but I liked the ring of it...he doesn't.

So, I asked him for suggestions. Big mistake. Here are his favorites:

Reece Withersfork
Christy...and every elderly relatives' last name he could think of. I tried to explain that I don't want to be thinking about one of his elderly relatives when I'm writing a love scene. He seemed surprised.
Christy Erotica...uh, I don't write that hot. People would be greatly disappointed if they bought on my name only.
Christy Buymenow

At that point, I said thanks honey and ran.

What about you? Will you use a pseudonym? Do you already have a one? If so, how did you come up with it?

Oh, and if you can think of something better than Reece Withersfork, feel free to make suggestions!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Romance Covers It All

I was looking at my bookshelf the other day and I realized how much book covers have changed. From my old favorites of Johanna Lindsey’s naked man with clothed woman to Sherrilyn Kenyon’s beautiful eyes in gorgeous man’s face. There were flowered covers, some with set-backs and some without. Some with just women on the cover while others with animals (mainly horses).

I never understood why publishers’ art departments would place naked or partially clothed women with clothed men on the covers, especially when they’re to appeal mostly to women.

Nowadays, many of the covers are beautiful works of art. LOL! At least in my eyes. Even if they don’t show their faces - I fill in those areas and others. I do have an imagination I like to use. Let me share.






















Well, what covers do you like?

P.S. Oh, one of my favorites is actually a drawing. You can check it out at http://www.ellorascave.com/productpage.asp?ISBN=1-84360-718-2

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Oops!

I was supposed to blog yesterday. I think this is the first time I've missed my day. Because we're all writers, I have the best excuse in the world: Friday I finished a novel I've been writing off and on for a year and a half! Ever since, I've been reading it. The dishes have piled up, the laundry has piled up, and the blogging has piled up. Sorry!

Finishing this novel has been a huge challenge for several reasons. Since I started it, I went through the revisions and edits of MAJOR CRUSH, wrote and then went through the revisions and edits of THE BOYS NEXT DOOR, and revised another book three times for a new agent. I've repeatedly gotten my hopes raised and then dashed about two other books selling. The books I've actually sold are both young adult novels, and the one I've been working on is an adult romantic comedy, so there's been less of a guarantee my work will pay off. With all this upheaval and uncertainty in the air, I have doubted myself.

And several times when I had to stop working on this book in favor of another project, I have wondered whether I should go back to it at all. I have doubted that my characters are likeable, my subject matter is marketable, and anyone will give a rip. Finally one of my critique partners sent me this e-mail message:

From: Victoria Dahl
To: Jennifer Echols
Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Subject: Re: Crap

Yeah, I think all your breakdowns seem to be related to doubting what you've written, going back over it, hating it, revising it, hating it even more. If you can sit down and write it all out ONE time, take notes of what you might need to go back and change, but keep moving forward...this would be good for you.

So that is what I did. And now I have a book. I'm not sure how good the book is, but I have it, and I can revise it. And this e-mail is tacked to my bulletin board, where I read it every day.

I'm not quite through proofing, so...back to work!