Sunday, November 26, 2006

I heard several messages on giving thanks this holiday season. One phrase in particular stuck out in my mind.

“Practice Thanks-living,” our preacher said, and followed it with the story of a ten lepers whom Jesus cleansed. Only one came back to say thanks.

It would be so easy to think of all the things that didn’t happen in 2006. I didn’t get to spend Mother’s Day with my husband’s mom who died three years ago of cancer. I didn’t get a fancy dinner for my 19th wedding anniversary because my husband and I went to a basketball game to watch my son play at home in our school’s brand new gym. Thanksgiving, we stayed home because all of our family still lives in Michigan and we live in Texas.

But that’s not what I want to focus on. I want to focus on the good things of 2006. I want to be like that one leper who realized what a precious gift Jesus gave him, and was moved to seek out the One who healed him.

I will always remember 2006 as the year I received my first contract, but really, it was so much more. Our first born son became a senior in high school, and our baby girl became a freshman. Thanksgiving with just the four of us became almost bittersweet as we realized that, perhaps for the last time, we were all together. Instead of mourning my mother-in-law’s passing on Mother’s Day, I celebrated my happy memories of her. And on my anniversary, I gave thanks that my husband sat beside me, loving me, holding my hand as we watched our son play.

I have so much to be thankful for. Whether or not I actually give thanks depends on my perspective, I suppose, and whether or not I’m like the one. . .or the nine.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I didn’t know when I set out to be a writer, how many other things I would be called upon to do.

Since the sale of my first book, I’ve had to learn how to set up my own website. MY OWN WEBSITE! If I’d been told a year ago that I would know how to do that, I would have laughed. This techie geek wannabe has lofty ambitions but very little talent (g). Still, I knew I’d have to tackle that obstacle if I wanted to market my books effectively. But money was a problem. While I would have loved to just pay someone to build me a website, waiting for that would have meant delaying several years. So, with the help of a crit partner who pointed me in the right direction, I set off to do the impossible. Now, making changes to my site has become second nature. Even…gulp…easy. Never would I have dreamed I’d say that.

Once I’d conquered that beast, I thought I’d take another step and start an online web log…a blog if you will. More to learn. More to study.

I’m not as comfortable writing my own html mind you, but I’m learning. Even my kids are proud. When I showed the new blog to my son, he laughed and said, “Mom, one of these days you’re going to call me over and say, ‘Look, son. I’ve broken into the White House computer.’”


While that may be a while off, it was still fun to hear. It made me feel like I really was part of the computer savvy generation. But having said that, is it really all that important for a first time author?

I think so. Never let anyone tell you that the work is over once you’ve sold a book. Much as we’d all like to think so, no one will market that book for you. It falls to each of us to get our names out to the public, to “sell” ourselves so to speak.

On top of my website and blog, I’ve also learned how to make book marks and business cards. I’ll post the instructions on the Writer’s Resources of my website if you’re interested. I also bought a high quality color printer so I can print postcards when my book cover comes out, and I’m leaning toward creating a monthly newsletter. Sound like a lot of work? It is…but so is the life a writer. Deciding if it’s what you want is up to you.

Oh, and btw, I have no ambitions of breaking into the White House computer. . .

Monday, November 13, 2006

Every writer who’s ever submitted a proposal to an editor knows the feeling of elation you experience once your masterpiece leaves you and makes its way into the world. Often, though, the initial thrill at having crafted what you believe to be the story of the century turns to distress as days turn into weeks without any response. Finally resignation takes hold as you envision your carefully crafted work of art sitting in a slush pile, its pages beginning to crack with age.

So it was with me on a day in April, 2006. At the time I was principal of an elementary school in Tennessee. The last thing on my mind that morning was my proposal that had been in to Barbour for two months. Discipline problems, teacher evaluations, and a phone system that wasn’t working properly topped my list of priorities for the day.

With all the problems of the morning, I hadn’t even had time to check e mail. Annoyed with the phone situation, I took my cell phone, which always stayed turned off at work, from my purse and placed it on my desk just in case I needed to make a call.

Right before lunch it rang. I checked the caller ID. An area code I didn’t recognize flashed on the screen. When I answered, I nearly jumped from my chair as the caller identified herself as Susan Downs of Barbour Publishing.

It was THE CALL I’d been waiting for, and all I could do was squeal with happiness as she told me she wanted my novel Pedigreed Bloodlines for the new Barbour mystery line. Although my agent later told me he didn’t hear my scream, I’m sure it echoed all across the country.

I’ve thought about that day a lot in the months since. No matter how many books I sell, that one call will always stand out as the most exciting of my writing career. Finally someone believed in me and offered me a chance to move into the next stage of publication.

After I hung up, I thanked God for the opportunity I’d been given. Then another thought struck me – one which caused me to stand in awe of God’s great love. Even when we don’t realize it, He’s walking beside us, taking care of problems of which we’re unaware.

When I checked my e mail, Susan had sent a message saying, “Do you have time to chat with me? Call me.” She’d listed her phone number, but I hadn’t seen it.

She didn’t have my office phone and couldn’t have reached me on it because it was not working properly that day, so she called a crit partner of mine in Texas to get my cell phone number. I know God guided me to take that cell phone from my purse and turn it on that morning.
He already knew what was in store for me and worked out the little problems that would have delayed my news. Understanding God’s love and how he works in our lives is what keeps me writing. It is my prayer that His words will fill the pages of my stories as I try to tell others of that great love He offers to all people.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I heard an interesting bit of information at the writer’s conference I attended this year—stories of authors who received upwards of twenty pages of edits from their publisher. Single spaced edits. Sometimes with major revisions requested.

Now, mind you, these are multi-published authors, with years of writing experience behind them.

(Shudder) All of sudden, I was very grateful for my critique partners. I belong to two groups, both of them very helpful to me in picking out errors I have overlooked, but also in pinpointing areas of weakness, sections of story that require strengthening, or reworking. See, as authors, we get very close to our work.

“It’s like my baby,” I’ve heard it said, and I know exactly what the person meant.

Our characters become real people. We breathe life into them through our writing, fashioning and shaping their destinies with one stroke of the finger. While this is what we strive for, it also makes it very difficult for us to be objective judges of our own work. Crit partners are invaluable tools, cutting and strengthening without regard for the hours spent molding a scene, simply because in their objective wisdom, they see what needs to be done.

I haven’t got my first edits back from my editor yet, but I know they’re coming. I’m hoping for fewer than twenty pages—not because I’m afraid of the work, but because I hope that I’ve been diligent in presenting a clean manuscript. You see, it is NOT my editor’s responsibility to polish my manuscript for me—that’s my job, which hopefully I’ve accomplished with the help of my crit partners. Does that mean I haven’t done my part if my edits come back and there ARE twenty pages of suggested revisions? I don’t think so. But it does mean I’ve got something to shoot for, something more to learn.

I’m hoping that one day, I’ll get a manuscript back and my editor will say, “There wasn’t one thing I thought you should change. It was perfect, just the way it is.”

Hey, a girl can dream.

Newsletter Subscribe

* indicates required
Email Format


Powered by Blogger.

Historical Romantic Suspense

Historical Romance

Popular Posts

Recent Posts