Thursday, April 07, 2005

How I Got Here, Part 30

Sheesh, we’ve reached the Big 3-O. Happy over-the-hill days, y’all.

I received a great e-mail from a BG yesterday. She told me how my determination through publishing perils had encouraged her to take out an old manuscript and dust it off. Now she’s rewriting and seeing its improvement. I told her, “Go, girl!” So glad this recounting encouraged her. That’s the whole point of the story—to let you writers out there know you’re not alone. Rejection happens to everyone. And you can make your way through it.

Comments, comments: Ron, you’re right about that cop and the murder scene. How awful. But what an opener for a story. As for your wife seeking help for you—my family gave up on me long ago. C.J., you asked if there’s something I do spiritually to help prepare for a new book. Pretty simple, just keep praying a lot. Asking God to show me this book that’s already formed in His head. Reveal to me the spiritual theme as I write the story. And I claim joy in the process, because it’s so easy for me to feel overwhelmed.

Speaking of a new book . . .

Sheesh, says this BGr to y’all BGs, what was I thinking when I agreed to tell you my daily process of writing? Now when I don’t make my page count, when I procrastinate, when I fall on my fanny, everyone’s gonna know. Okay, so here’s the report for what I did yesterday. But if I see any rulers coming out for my knuckles, I’m clamming up.

I wrote half a page.

Well. So. It’s better than nothing. Besides, I worked on that half-page for a number of hours.

So now, as of end of yesterday, day three of the new book, I am 11 ½ pages behind. Of course, that’s with counting the first nearly blank six pages, because I know they’ll be a piece of cake later.

Of course, half a page means I wrote the first line. Wanna hear it?

Paige Manders harbored a restless kinship with the living dead.

Whatdya think, huh? Weigh in, BGs. Be honest—I can take it. (Hey, haven’t I had a little practice over the years?)

Before we get to NES (that’s my new term for our Never-Ending Saga): News flash! News flash! Becky’s note that she’d finished Dead of Night gave me an idea. Any of y’all out there reading it—if you’ll post a review about it at and/or, I’ll send you a free autographed copy to pass on to a friend. Or, I suppose, an enemy, if you hate the book. (Just please, please don’t give away any surprises in your reviews.) If you’re on my influencer list—hey, you’re already getting a free copy. For the rest of you, e-mail me when your review is posted, and my assistant will send you the free book. It’ll be a free birthday present for your pal. Or a gift for Mother’s or Father’s Day. Whatever.

Okay, back to NES. Where were we?

Oh, yes, Editor C calling with her news about Color the Sidewalk for Me. The last editor who had the manuscript. All hopes pinned on this one. The answer?

Yes, C still loved it. Would have bought it, too. But at the last minute—major problems. Unfortunately, the house was undergoing some reorganization of staff, and C had decided to leave the company . . .

Bam, another door slammed in my face at the last minute. Sidewalk had been officially orphaned—before it was ever born.

Those were difficult days, I’ll tell you. Yes, Cast a Road Before Me was set for release the following spring. But both my other books—the one I’d spent so many years writing—were dead in the water. There were other houses out there who hadn’t seen either Eyes of Elisha or Sidewalk. But there were reasons why my agent hadn’t sent to them. And remember, five years ago there weren’t nearly as many Christian publishers doing fiction as there are now. Still, my agent said she’d keep knocking down doors. The right houses would be found.

I kept praying. I had to believe God had closed these doors for good reason. I only hoped the reason wasn’t to teach me patience—for the next 25 years.

Agent Jane took a good hard look at all the remaining houses. There was one major house that she’d had little dealings with. And unfortunately, with a solid string of known novelists, it had very little room for a newbie. Still, it looked like it might be a fit for Eyes of Elisha. We’d certainly learned by now that this book was apparently “controversial.” Last thing I’d ever want to be, but that was the truth of it. So Jane made certain that this house understood what it was getting. Were they interested in taking a look at it?


Well. By this time, how could I let myself get excited? I didn’t want to be crushed again.

At least, this is what I told myself.

In reality, for us dogged, determined, cabinet-kicking writers, hope springs eternal. So don’t you know--it welled up in me once more.

Jane sent this editor—Editor E—the manuscript.

We waited.

Around this time, a certain understanding was becoming clear to me. When I’d mention to my writer friends about using techniques I’d learned from Method acting for building characters—guess what? I got blank looks. May sound silly now, but this was a real surprise at the time. I’d studied drama in high school and college, read all the Stanislavsky books (the so-called “father” of Method acting), so the techniques rolling off my tongue sounded natural to me. But apparently they were Greek to my pals. Hm. Could there possibly be a book in this?

I started doing some research. How many books were there about adapting Method acting techniques for novelists? Answer: none. Whoa. You mean to tell me I got some kinda bright new idea? Way cool!

I started writing a proposal for a nonfiction book on the subject. Hey, what did I have to lose except being rejected again—and I was getting real used to that. Somewhere along the way I realized I’d better ask my agent about this. “Um, Jane, I know I’m already writing in two fiction genres, but could I write another nonfiction? Here’s what it’s about . . .” She said go for it.

I wrote the proposal. Sent it to Jane. She sent it back—with needed changes. Surprise, surprise. I wrote it again. This time she okayed it. And sent it out to two houses in the general market that were perfect for publishing it.

Yippee yay! Ye ol’ hope started bubblin' for sure. Now I had two manuscripts out, in both the Christian and the general markets—to a total of three great houses.

Where could we go wrong?

Read Part 31


Cheryl Russell said...

Yeesh, it's 8am here in the Buckeye state, and you've posted already? Way early riser or didn't you ever make it to bed?

Even though this is my first post, I've been reading along with everyone else. As a result, I'm not sure if I should be encouraged or depressed. lol

BTW, my fourteen year old daughter is a huge fan of your suspense. She's not much of a reader, but you're one author she hates to put down. She finished Dead of Night last week. I'll have her post a review on amazon.


Stuart said...

Fun first line. Of course being the twisted person I am the first thing that popped in my head is that you're going to have to find yourself a copy of: The Zombie Survival Guide : Complete Protection from the Living Dead
by MAX BROOKS *snicker*

mrsd said...

Paige Manders harbored a restless kinship with the living dead.

Living dead? Are you referring to sleep deprived mothers? :D

What I like about the line is the word harbored. From that one word, I imagine that Paige is sensitive and loyal--even about situations that make her uneasy.

As a living dead sleep deprived mother, I could be wrong.


Kelly said...

harbored a restless kinship with the living dead - speaks volumes. Harbored and restless bring pictures of stormy seas. Kinship -deep understanding of spiritual things (living dead). Living dead - can't help but think about Sixth Sense (shiver). Compelling. I want to read the story surrounding that simple statement. Hmmmm - is that what you are going for?

I have asked my Iowa library to order Dead of Night (and of course since it is part of a series they will have to order the rest). They ordered the Black,Red,White trilogy by Dekker at my request and they are getting checked out.

I figure any author wants to be in a library, right? See you at day 31 - A month of suspense. You can claim to be the one true "drama queen" - after all you wrote the book!!!!

Becky said...

Will be posting a review at Amazon--more than happy to.

Still loving the NES (and enjoying your invention of words and acronyms! ; )

New "first line." Excellent--with one hesitation, but I'm sure it's just me. I'm not a fan of starting with the character's first and last name. Makes me think of formulaic novels. You know the kind from of old--the prairie romances that swapped in a blonde Summer as the protag instead of redhead Autumn. Hahah. And respectively they fell in love with Dirk the wrangler and Jake the gold miner. Hahah.

Your writing in Dead of Night showed such great character development, so I'm not suggesting Paige is a sub for Annie. Just that the first-last name intro made me think of that.

Ron Estrada said...

I agree. Paige Manders must be a new mom. That or she's been waiting 15 years for a call from her agent. It does keep my interest, though. I'd go on to the next line. We've got a thread going in the suspense forum on ACFW called "The Hook." It's getting a bit silly now but there's some fun one liners in there. I've got your character book in my Amazon cart. I have to get a load before I check out. Saves on shipping you know. Okay, tomorrow's Friday. Don't you dare leave us with a nasty cliffhanger all weekend!

C.J. Darlington said...

Maybe I'm slow, but I wasn't sure what the heck "living dead" meant. But perhaps that's the purpose - getting us to read on to find out. I think if it works for you, go for it!

Again, thanks for taking the time for this blog. I know it can really eat at a person's time. That's why I haven't started one yet. More power to ya! :-)

Randy said...

Everyone loves to critique. So painless to do! Much easier to give than to receive... But since you offered the first line, I can't help but jump in.

I'd delete "restless." What other kind of kinship with the l/d could there be? Not restful, I don't think. "harbored" and "kinship" are great on their own.

And I'd prefer a pronoun rather than the name. "She harbored a kinship with the living dead." Leaves more to build from, and it's freaky.

The opening is intriguing, to be sure. And thanks for cutting into your novel-writing time to share your realistically encouraging tale. Blessings.

Suzan Robertson said...

Great opening line. Love those cool hooks.

Does the "living dead" have anything to do with coma patients? Just curious.

Lynette Sowell said...

Great first line. Leave it and go on. :) STILL waiting on my copy of Dead of Night to arrive. Yes, will be happy to post a review.

I think by the time another door slammed in my face, I'd be saying, "God, are you SURE you're telling me to do this?" I have 'thought' God would have me do something, only to be mistaken later. Which means if He wants us to do something, it won't go smoothly. I'm glad you recommended prayer. And bring on the TUMS.

C.J. Darlington said...

Yea, I agree with Lynette. Leave it and go on. You'll know better if it conveys what you want when you write the rest of the book.

Lynette Sowell said...

Oops. I should know better than to comment when I'm tired. I meant to say, if God asks us to do something, that doesn't always mean things will go smoothly. ~~Lynette, slapping forehead, reaching for TUMS