Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Writing and Moving

I'm turning my blog over to my guest today, while I'm over at Barbara Vey's Publisher's Weekly Beyond Her Book Blog. Graham Harrigan from NOWHERE TO HIDE is joining me, and he's bringing his Death By Chocolate Cake in honor of the mystery theme of the day. Lots of prizes and giveaways. We'll be in and out all day along with lots of other authors. Drop by.

Today, I welcome Maris Soule to Terry's Place. Maris has had 25 romances published by Harlequin, Silhouette, and Bantam (Loveswept); has been a RITA finalist twice; and has won or placed in several contests. She is now writing for Five Star Publishing, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. This past year has presented new challenges.

March 2010 my husband and I purchased a place in Florida. That prompted a decision to sell our Kalamazoo, Michigan home, and move into our condo near Lake Michigan (which used to be our summer retreat). We plan on spending eight months of the year in the condo, and four in Florida. The last twelve months, however, have given me a new respect for any writer who has to move and still manages to keep up with his or her writing schedule. My schedule went down the drain.

A year ago I thought I would find time to rework a story that had been rejected by two agents. (That didn't happen.) I did have copy edits that had to be read, (Had to do that.) cover art to approve. (Thank goodness I liked what was proposed.), and later, advanced reading copy to read. (Another stage that had to be done.) In between the copy edits and ARCs, I packed and labeled boxes going to Florida; hauled books, clothes, etc. to the condo; held two yard sales; closed accounts; and visited a chiropractor on a regular basis (because all of this packing and moving was irritating a compressed disc).

When the move to the condo was finally made, I thought I would once again be able to settle down to my writing. I didn't take into consideration a computer that decided to die mid-sentence (just before Labor Day weekend, of course.). After several trips to a computer repair shop, I gave up and shopped for a new computer, which then involved reloading programs and files and the need for a device so I could go wireless. Along with the computer problems, I had to send out "change of address" notices to friends and businesses. Weeks went by where I was happy if I managed to produce a thousand words. And just when I felt as if I were in the groove…it was time to head for Florida.

Once again I was unpacking, having to buy items for both the house and my office (a wireless printer for one), and adjusting to a new lifestyle. I tried working on the story that I wanted to rewrite, but my husband wanted to explore this new area. I simply couldn't find a block of time when I could work uninterrupted. Yet I wanted to produce something.

I'd been reading about other writers putting their backlists out as e-books, and my husband had been urging me to do that with some of my older romances. I decided this might be the right time. Not that I could simply scan in the books. Oh no. Times have changed since my early romances were published, and as much as I love the stories, there are details in the books that simply had to be updated.

I'm actually enjoying this process. In the two months I've been in Florida, I've retyped two of the romances I had published in the 1980s. What I'm learning is how much my writing style has changed over the years. I now cringe at the idea of readers getting hold of those early copies. With one I definitely overused exclamation points and adverbs, and much of the writing was passive. With that book, it was also fun to revisit actual locations and see how (or if) they'd changed in the twenty-five years since the book was published.

I'm learning how much editors have taught me over the years. I've had around fourteen different editors and each has helped me become a better writer. I know many writers nowadays are excited about the opportunity to bypass publishing houses and the editing process (by e-publishing), but I think those writers are missing a great opportunity to fine-tune their writing. Editors are not the enemy; they want a book to succeed just as much as the writer does. (Their reputations depend on recommending books that sell lots of copies.)

So this year has been both frustrating and enlightening. I haven't produced anything new, but I am learning more about my writing (past and present), and I'm finally getting some of my backlist up as e-books. Nevertheless, in my opinion, moving is not the best move for a writer.

Leave a comment and Maris will select one name, and that person will receive an ARC of AS THE CROW FLIES, the second book in her P.J. Benson Mystery series. Remember, winners are announced on Saturdays, and you have to check in to see if you've won to claim your prize. Either that, or leave a contact email in your comment.

For more information about Maris Soule, visit her at www.MarisSoule.com. Her latest suspense, AS THE CROW FLIES will be released March 16th. Maris is also on Facebook and Twitter (MarisSouthHaven) and her ebooks are available at Smashwords.com.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I feel the same way about my writing from years ago. It's amazing how our voice can change over the years. Good for you for brushing off and brushing up your older books to republish. :)

Jacqueline Howett said...

Enjoyed the read Maris. Your move to Florida sounds like the best thing you did. I too moved to Florida from Maine. Well, you have evolved and its sounds like your books too are now primed. Glad to hear your getting your books up as eBoooks. Good Luck!

Author of The Greek Seaman eBook- on Kindle and the Nook.

D2TM2 said...

And we couldn't wait to get out of Florida!
But all the moving hassles were the same.

Anonymous said...

Not sure I'd want to do all that packing, Maris! I'd rather just hibernate while the snow flies. My knees hurt no matter what the weather. Best wishes on new sales once your back list is in ebook format! Meg Mims

Margaret Fieland said...

Maris, at least you can comfort yourself with the idea that the move is over at last.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to this, Maris. I took on the October Obsession last year and moved two weeks into it! Needless to say I didn't meet my goal, but came close. I agree, moving is hard on a writer. Great blog! Happy writing!

Maris said...

Thank you, Terry, for having me as a guest blogger. And my thanks to all who have left comments. Maybe it's misery loves company, but it's nice to know I wasn't alone last year with the frustrations of moving.

Darlene said...

Years and years ago, I was trying to write and move (and even had an editor interested in my story). I was doing well with it, then a hurricane hit the week before I was supposed to move. I went into some type of stress-block and couldn't remember anything about my story. I finally told the editor I wouldn't be able to send the story. Eventually it all came back -- once the stress eased off.

Recently, I've had to move twice in two years and I gave up writing during those moves. I was actually moving two houses each in two years, so it would double-trouble. I still have injuries that haven't healed. So I can empatize, Maris... totally.

Annette Briggs said...

Since you've discovered that your writing has evolved over the years, can you/ do you "update" those older books you now have control over? Are we getting a new version?

So glad they're available now.

Anonymous said...

I, too, cringe when reading earlier writings. I think it is a common writer issue. I tell my students that all writers started where they are: seated in a classroom, learning how to properly use a semi-colon and how to deal with those pesky commas. As for the move, I made a major move nearly 13 years ago, and I'm STILL looking for that daily regular BLOCK of time that I can call my own. Hard to do when each day doesn't look like the one before it. Thanks for sharing, Maris.

Judy Joslin said...


The adventures of the past year for you have certainly been an exploration in change. Finding that 'block of time' with your name on it is 'on sabbatical' while you adjust to new friends and surroundings.

So my friend, enjoy the moment. It's the journey that will add color and depth to that elusive block of time. I'm sure you will allow it back into your life when you are truly ready.

Vicki Maxa said...

We often view aging as a complex process that compromises our physical abilities and leaves us subject to compressed discs and other annoying ailments. It's important to remember that aging also results in maturity and wisdom in our writing, our reading, and our everyday lives. Sometimes when I look back on my earlier writing, it's almost like meeting my own ghost! Moving is another opportunity to re-evaluate, isn't it? Some of the things found when emptying the house to move can also bring back the past. I hope you found some forgotten treasures, Maris. Perhaps there's a story in them!

Sherry Gloag said...

Great post Maris. Thanks for sharing. Looking back on early writing styles is incredibly illuminating. As you say your style changes as does the publisher's remit and word usage.
I love your comment, Vicki, 'Sometimes when I look back on my earlier writing, it's almost like meeting my own ghost!'
That says it all.

Maris said...

My thanks to all who left comments. I agree with Vicki's comment about meeting my own ghost. She was younger, for sure. And it's amazing, looking back, how much has changed since I wrote those first books. My best to all of you.