Friday, April 08, 2005
How I Got Here, Part 31
Happy Friday, BGs. Y’all are awesome! I so appreciated the comments from yesterday. Cheryl, thanks for posting for the first time. And I loved the feedback about my opening line. An edit from numerous “fresh eyes” always jazzes me.
As you’ll recall, the drafted first line was: Paige Manders harbored a restless kinship with the living dead.
BGs who wondered, of course you don’t know what “living dead” means. Zombies? Tired moms? The Sixth Sense? That’s the whole point. It’s simply to shake you up, throw questions into your head, get you to read further . . .
Randy, good catch about the word “restless.” Besides not needing it, the word did an overkill on the sentence rhythm. I have now deleted it. And I have to agree with you and Becky about not using the character’s name in the first line. I’ve only done that one other time. I think it’s more mysterious to start with a pronoun. Interesting thing here, however. I purposely used the name for two reasons. One, it makes the rhythm of the sentence work. The “beat” of the subject balances the “beat” of the final two words—“living dead.” If I just use “She” as a subject, that screws up the rhythm.
Second reason is foreshadow.
That said, once I wrote more pages today (yes, I did write!), I saw a better way to do the foreshadowing. So for now the sentence reads: She harbored a kinship with the living dead.
Still don’t like this rhythm, however. The sentence may well change. But for now I’m pressing on. I wrote 6 1/2 pages yesterday. And it took all day. Sheesh, the writing never comes easily at the beginning of a manuscript. So now I’m only 11 pages behind. Proud of me?
BTW, perhaps I owe a slight explanation here. I’m not usually so totally in the dark about a series that’s already contracted, and that I have to start writing—now. See, it’s like this. In January, when I had ye ol’ big marketing meeting with my publishing house, and we all decided I needed to focus on writing suspense only, I was working on the final book in my Hidden Faces series. Which meant I would soon be starting on my new contemporary (women’s fiction) series. I knew the general outlay of that series, and had the first book basically planned. Sort of. But then the whole thing got pulled. “Replace it with a suspense series,” Zondervan said. “Just let us know what it will be when you figure it out.”
Have I told you all this before?
Anyway, when is the operative word. Meanwhile I had to start writing this week. At some point (better be soon), I’ll email my editor and tell her what the series is about.
Oop, ding-aling goes the bell. Time to get back to NES (that’s Never-Ending Saga, for you newbies.)
So—we left off with new hope a’bubblin’ in my shriveled author’s heart. Two houses in the general market had my nonfiction, Getting Into Character. And one house in the Christian market had Eyes of Elisha.
We waited. (You know, I’ve written those two words so many times, I should just start using WW.)
First call finally came to my agent—from one of the general market houses. Regarding Getting Into Character? Nix. Nyet. No.
Hey, well. I didn’t really expect a yes. In fact, my other books were taking so long to sell, I figured this proposal might get off the ground in about, oh, five years. What really counted for me was selling Eyes of Elisha. When were we going to hear from Editor E?
E finally contacted Jane. She called me. I held my breath.
E liked Eyes of Elisha very much.
E was taking it to pub board.
“Hang in there,” Jane told me. “This house is a good fit. Really. I know these things are totally unpredictable, but this would be a great place for you to be. Very strong house."
Yeah, yeah, keep that hope bubbling.
How many rejections in a row had I gotten at this point? Most of ’em at the last minute. I’m tired, God. Sure, I keep praying and all that, but I don’t know that I can take much more of this.
Days passed. Weeks. An eternity. Dratted pub boards.
Editor E finally contacted Jane. She called me. “It’s a yes! They’re making an offer on Eyes of Elisha.”
Oh. Wow. Oh, oh, oh! I cried, I Snoopy danced, I forgot to b r e a t h e . . . The sting of past rejections fell away. This was it! God had finally opened the right door for this first novel I ever wrote—after ten years! God, thank You, thank You, thank You. I called my husband at work, my mom, my sisters, the world.
Somewhere amidst all the elation, a little voice whispered. “Remember Editor C? The house that changed its mind—after pub board?”
Oh, no, huh-uh. Not this time. It simply would not happen again. I mean, really, who got struck by lightning twice?
All the same, I began to pray now that Jane wouldn’t call. That unique tone of my business line—didn’t want to hear it. Nope, nope, nope. If it sounded, I would cover my hears, hum real loud. Deny, deny.
Every day that passed in silence was a victory. Editor E’s house was working on the contract—what advance they would offer, what the royalties would be. It’s okay, Brandilyn, chill out. Everything will come together.
Another day. A few more. A week. Two weeks. This is a good thing, right? Still no call. Just waiting for ye ol’ fax machine to heat up, spit out those contract pages . . .
More days passed.
Then one afternoon—the phone rang.
My business line.
Don't stress, it’s just some writing pal calling to chat . . . But by the time I picked up the receiver, my heart rattled in my throat.
Oh, no, oh, no. God, I’m telling You, I will not make it this time.
“Well.” She sounded matter-of-fact, as always. “I just heard from Editor E. About that contract we've been waiting for.”
Read Part 32