Monday, February 19, 2018

The Power of a Writer

Debra thinks about what amazing power writers hold.

This weekend I hosted a children's book discussion at our Historical Society based on the book Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. As the kids and I were chatting about the book, we turned to the author notes at the back of the edition I had. A quote from Ms. MacLachlan stood out as she responded to the question of 'What is the best thing about being a writer?'

"For me the most rewarding thing about writing is making things come out the way I want them to; making sense of the things that were in my life when I was a child as well as the things that I care about now that I am an adult. As a writer I have the power to set things down and make them right, that same power that I don't always have in life."

Her response really struck a chord with me. The power writers have at their fingertips is really amazing. We have infinitely more control over the lives of our fictional characters than we do over our own. Even over simple things like the weather: if my story calls for a sunny day at the beach...wa la...the sun pours down, heating the grains of sand and sparking over the water. If the angst and turmoil and tension of a scene needs to be back lit by a thunderstorm...boom!...thunder shakes the earth and lightning forks through the sky lighting it with a brilliant flash.

We control our characters' emotions and reactions. We give them backgrounds and backstory. And especially in romance, we give them a happily ever after. Guaranteeing that after all of the angst and turmoil and bad things that have happened in the past, they are going to be happy. Everything is going to work out in the best way possible. Not to sound blasphemous, but it's a little like playing God.

You have only to turn on the news. Or look on Facebook. Or open an on-line search engine and read the heart-breaking headlines there each and every day to know this doesn't happen in real life.

But not only do we have the power to control our characters and stories, we also have the power to make our readers feel good after a crap day...or a crap week...or a crap year. To let them immerse themselves in a story with a good ending. To know for certain, that no matter what the characters are going through and how long it takes them to get there or what bad needs to be overcome, it will all be overcome. To lose themselves in fiction for a while to take the edge off of reality.

It's a daunting responsibility to think that as much joy as we get out of our writing (most days, right?!) how much more joy we can bring to those who read our stories. Not to mention in a world that more and more often feels like it's falling apart, being able to control anything is truly a miracle.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Writing a Synopsis

Paula agonises over her synopsis!  

I read somewhere that the synopsis is probably ‘the most despised document you might be asked to prepare’ – and, having spent hours trying to write the synopsis of my recently completed novel, I agree with that!

My previous publisher only required a basic ‘blurb’ when I submitted a novel to her, so I was well out of practice in writing a synopsis.

Of course, I knew the basic advice about synopses – characters, core conflict, how the characters deal with it, how the conflict is resolved and how the characters have changed as a result.

All well and good, but what happens if you have several sub-plots which add to and/or further complicate the core conflict? Or which hinder or contribute to the resolution of the conflict?

I think this novel had more sub-plots than I’ve ever used before. Sometimes they form separate strands (for a while, at least!),but then they become interwoven and often somewhat tangled!

I started by writing a basic plot summary. Maybe that is similar to what I might have written beforehand if I was a ‘plotter’ – but, being a ‘pantser’, this was the first time I had done it. It was, inevitably, far too detailed, with too many names and too much irrelevant information. 

But, having done that, I could then see (a) what had to be deleted, (b) what could be condensed and (c) what needed to be taken out of the ‘linear’ outline of the story and combined, so that the synopsis didn’t jump from one thing to another.

So, after tearing my hair out a few times, I finally managed to compose a synopsis, which I hope reflects the most important parts of my story, as well as the emotional journey of the two main characters.

I’d be interested to know how you approach synopsis writing!


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Editing, Editing & More Editing

Jennifer gives an update...

I’ve been buried in my editing cave for the past several weeks, and I’m just now coming up for air. What have I been working on? Glad you asked! J

For the past few years, I’ve been working on a new series that I hope to start pitching in the near future. So I was editing books one and two to try to get them into shape. I’m hoping I was successful. I still have book 3 to revise—and it needs some serious revisions—and book four to write. This is a series I work on in my spare time (ha!), so it’s taken a while to get up and running.


I finally received my galleys for Five Minutes to Love from my editor, so I spent a week scouring the manuscript for misspelled words, additional or missing words (like a double “is,” for example), spacing issues or punctuation mistakes. My eyes are buggy, but I think I caught everything. Next step is to make sure they corrected all the errors and then I will have a release date. In the meantime, Addicted to Love, the first book in this series, is on sale this month for 99 cents. So it's a great time to pick it up!

I’ve also been re-editing my first book, A Heart of Little Faith. The publisher who had it is getting out of the business this summer, so I took my rights back and will try my hand at self-publishing that title (and maybe one other). I’m curious to see how it compares to other means of publishing, and I like the idea of being a hybrid author. So I sent the manuscript out to an editor, she has come back with fantastic changes, and I’m slowly going through them, making the book stronger. Next step will be copyedits.

And that, my friends, is what I’ve been up to lately. Hoping to have some news soon!


Oh, and happy birthday to Debra! J

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Basking in the Glow

Ana feels good about Success

A writer friend's first romance was released by Kensington on Tuesday.
Each month, authors in on the Soul Mate Publishing roster have their books published.

Debra is waiting for news on her latest submission.
Paula is polishing her latest (and possibly greatest) story.
Jen is super busy setting up promo for new stories.
I am writing chapter four of a contracted story, book 2 in the Prairie Hearts Series.

At least once a day, I lean back and bask in the glow of everyone's success--not to steal any morsels, but to appreciate how good we all are. And to thank the systems that allow us to create works of creative art and share them with readers all over the world.

It's time for a quick, "Hooray!"


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The "What If" Game

Debra ponders what will happen if...

I'm at about week 10ish in the whole "You'll hear back from us in eight to twelve weeks." timeline. While I wait with fingers and toes crossed. While I wish on as many shooting stars as I can. While I pray. While I sit on pins and needles. I'm playing a little 'what if' back and forth with myself. Obviously, in this particular 'game', there are two options.

What if...I get THE CALL and it's a yes!

Well, first I will fall out of whatever seat I'm sitting in, then get up and do a VERY enthusiastic dance of joy. Probably shed some tears as well. Call/yell for my hubby so he's the first to know. And then let everyone else I've ever been acquainted with know as well.

After that, I'm going to have some fairly major decisions to make. Because my hope for this particular call is that it takes my writing from something I do for fun and pleasure, to something I do as a career (while, of course, keeping the fun and pleasure component.) At the moment, writing is a hobby. Most days I enjoy it. I love to tell stories, as I can live so many vicarious lives, and it gives me something to do with all of those voices in my head. But I'm not writing to make a living. I have a real job that I also love most days and which I need to pay the bills. But if this really happens, I'm going to need to devote more time to my writing. It literally will become a job, not just a hobby if I am lucky enough to sign with this publisher. Does that mean I give up every other interest I have in order to be able to work two jobs? I'm highly involved in my local Historical Society, and it's something I am passionate about. But with two careers to possibly juggle, my already limited time will be even more limited. Would I eventually choose my writing career over my other career? Something I've been doing for 25 years now? Hmn? Perhaps it is time for a change. Time to branch out and try something new. But at that point, it really, REALLY needs to be a career, because my hubby and I are not in a position to be able to live on one salary.

On the other hand...

What if...I get a call, an e-mail, a letter and it's a rejection?

Well, first there will be some tears. Quite different than the joyful ones in the 'yes' scenario. But once I pull myself together, I will still have some decisions to make.

Do I try this publisher (Which I really have my heart and hopes set on.) with another mss (in hopes they like my voice even though the submitted story wasn't right for them), or do I look elsewhere? So far in my writing 'life', I have not gone the agent route. Do I attempt to get an agent and let her pass my work around? But if I submit the original mss to her, then I've already missed out on my target publisher. Or do I submit a new mss to her and let her know I'd like it to be passed along to said target publisher. Is that even an option with an agent. IF she'd even accept me in the first place. Do I take a step back from writing totally and focus my energies elsewhere? Become even more involved with the Historical Society. (There is a possible opportunity on the horizon for that as well.) Will a rejection be a sign that it's not meant to be? Or am I just too hyper-focused on this one submission? I really, really love my current publisher, but the new projects I'm working on don't seem like they'd be a good fit. Or perhaps, again, it's just me being hyper-focused on what I'm coveting at the moment. I mean, there are LOTS of publishers out there. It would be REALLY silly to give up totally just because of a rejection from one. If that's how I played this game all along, I never would have gotten published in the first place. Rejection is all part of the writing life.

The 'what if' game is tricky. It's in turn exalting and depressing. I'm trying to take a glass half full approach in both outcomes, as there really could be something good that comes out of either. But unfortunately I'm a bit too much of a pessimist to do that. And I really feel I've put all of my apple hopes in one basket.

At this point, only time, and hopefully just a couple more weeks will tell. In the meantime, I'll continue with the 'what if'. You all keep those fingers and toes crossed. And if you happen to see a shooting star, make a wish for me.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Final Chapter

Paula is struggling with her final chapter!  

Usually when I get to the final chapter of a ‘work in progress’, I know where I’m going with it. It may need some thought and ‘sorting out’ to ensure I tie up all the loose ends, but at least I have a rough idea how to do that.

Not so with 'Irish Shadows', my current WIP. There are several fairly complex plot strands running through this story, and I’ve realised I resolved two of them too soon, so first I need to go back and rewrite parts of a couple of chapters. Then I have to decide which other problems/issues need to be brought to a satisfying conclusion – and, of course, how to do that. Last but not least, I need to work out just when the final scene takes place, and how I get all the necessary characters together for this, so that it doesn’t appear too ‘convenient’. Most of my novels have a slight twist at the end, but so far the twist for this story is proving elusive. I've thought of, but then dismissed, several possible twists as being either unrealistic or too contrived.

Fortunately, I have an excellent brainstorming ‘partner’ – not a writer, but a reader who knows what she likes, and also knows what questions to ask me. She’s also happy to listen while I talk through the problems – and sometimes that is the best way to sort them out. I’m hoping that after we have lunch together tomorrow I’ll have a clearer idea of how to deal with my final chapter!

Have you ever had big problems with your final chapter – and, if so, how did you resolve them?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Waiting For the Next Step

Jennifer is waiting...

I’m running out of patience.

Those who know me would laugh, because really, I am not a patient person. So to say I’m running out is kind of the equivalent of saying an empty glass is running out of wine. But I try, I really do, and occasionally, I’m successful at pretending to be patient.

In this case, I’m ready to jump up and down.

I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever for my galleys so that I can do my last proof of my manuscript and find out my release date. Only then can I start doing serious marketing. I know I’ll get them in the next week or two. But the waiting is killing me, since I turned in my last round of edits in November.

In the meantime, I’ve been drawing people to my Facebookpage and engaging them in order to begin active dialogues about my book when the time is right. I’ve been continuing my Instagram account and running some giveaways on social media and through my newsletter.

I've also been soliciting readers with ARCs for reviews to appear on release day. And I’ve been obsessively checking my email inbox.

I know that one of these days the awaited email will arrive, and at that point I’ll be busier than ever. But in the meantime…