What I'm reading: Tailspin, by Catherine Coulter
Saturday's presentation at the Maitland Library was a panel discussion of how the five authors on the panel got started in writing, and whether they would do it again, or will keep doing it.
Three of the other authors had one book published. I sat there with my four books and felt like a "real" author.
The last panelist had been writing from age thirteen, but was still looking to break into print. Everyone agreed that persistence was vital. One addressed the fear of being able to 'do it again' in another book, although he had at least four more in his head, waiting to be written. I was extremely gratified when one of the members of the audience came up and told me how I'd given her hope when I said I didn't start writing until much later in life, and that there was no reason to think it was ever too late.
An aside – what I'm taking away from the panel was the fact that the other woman there writes standing up! She has her computer on her dresser, atop a stack of books so it's at the right height. There's character fodder everywhere.
Next: Yesterday morning, my Cerridwen editor sent me the final copy of my short story, The Other Side of the Page, that's going to be released in the near future (no official date yet) as a free read (they call them "Scintillating Samples") from Cerridwen Press. It's a total departure in that it's not really a story at all, but rather a tongue in cheek look at a writer's life.
This is the 'official' blurb:
Finding the perfect hero and heroine for a romance novel can turn a writer’s hair gray—that’s why I advertise for them. Interviewing characters can be exhausting, and getting them to stick to the plot? Well, it doesn’t always work that way. And then you find out they’re talking about you behind your back…
Meet Randy and Sarah, the hero and heroine of Finding Sarah and Hidden Fire, in a funny and illuminating look at what goes on behind the scenes of the romance writing process.
I'll be sure to shout out when it's available for download.
Another project has put my novel-writing on temporary hold. I have a chance to participate in a mystery anthology. Only trouble is, the story I submitted was only half as long as what they were looking for. Since the story doesn't lend itself to expansion, I offered to write another, related story. Which means I have to write it! This is as close to working under deadline on something other than edits as I've come yet in my writing career, and although I don't have a hard and fast date, ASAP is the working goal.
Short stories are entirely different from novels. You don't have room for much character development, sub-plots or a large supporting cast. I've got my protagonist—a Homicide Detective, already established in the first story. I've also got a secondary character, also introduced in that story.
Confession: The germ for this story showed up over drinks with Homicide Detective Mark Hussey. He mentioned things that set off red flags for homicide detectives, and one of them seemed a perfect starting point for a story.
So, Gordon, Megan and Justin, are patiently waiting in the wings – actually, Megan and Justin are in a posh hotel in Denver, and Gordon's still back in my fictional town of Mapleton, Colorado. Yesterday, I actually managed to write something for both projects, but I'm not sure I can sustain that. They're both mysteries, and I fear getting them mixed up, as I'm still learning who Gordon, Megan, and Justin are.
I admire those who can work effectively on more than one project. Robert B. Parker said he normally worked on one book in the morning, took a break, and worked on another in the afternoon. However, he's got to know his characters backward, forward, and inside out by now. (Not that I'm comparing my work to his!)
So, challenges for this new story:
Am I writing for word count, or am I writing the best, tightest possible story? Since I tend to write "long", it's important that I keep an eye on the temptation to use three words (or ten) when one will do, simply because I can watch the countdown on my spreadsheet approach my goal.
Should I write straight through, and then go back and cut? Or should I look at each day's production the next morning, and tighten as I go? Will I have the inner strength to cut, knowing it's pulling me farther from my goal?
Given that my name will be on the piece, I'm thinking I'll find that strength.
Tomorrow, my guest is Jacqueline Seewald, who's sharing her thoughts on how to get your work published. See you then.