Wednesday, April 13, 2005

How I Got Here, Part 34

Hey, BGs, I read all the comments from yesterday, as usual. What’s this about trying to shut down my story? Sheesh, you mean 33 parts is enough for you? I’ve only gotten y’all up to the end of 2000, for heaven’s sake.

Clearly, I have trained you well as suspense readers. Methinks since I didn’t leave you with ye ol’ huge hook, y’all thought the saga was over. My, my, don’t you know—just when the protagonist is thinking she’s conquered all . . .

But before I get back to NES, a thought. Now I’m all worried. I’m thinkin’ once this here NES is over, what’s to keep y’all comin’ back? Maybe you’ll leave me forever, and I’ll be stuck solo—just me and my spiders. BGr says to BGs—when this saga is really over, let’s see what y’all want to talk about. No doubt we can come up with some very interesting subjects. And if all else fails, I can always find a scathing letter I’ve received from some reader and post it.


Okay, back to NES.

Yes, I had sold Eyes of Elisha. And blind "book 2." But as you’ll recall, I still really wanted to sell Color the Sidewalk for Me. Currently that book was doing nothing but sitting on my agent’s desk. All doors had been closed to it. Meanwhile, I did have one copy of my proposal for Getting Into Character sitting on the desk of a general market publishing house. Not that I expected that one to go very far.

Next big event--the contract for Eyes of Elisha was signed. A done deal! Totally, completely! A two-book contract with Zondervan! Okay, so what if I didn’t have a clue what the second book would be about . . .

Then, boom. Something else hit. Unexpected, outta nowhere.

General market Editor B liked my Getting Into Character proposal.

Really? Whoa. Yay!

Editor B would take it to pub board.

Déjà vu. Oh. Right.

Next, the editorial letter came in for Eyes of Elisha. Remember how my first sold novel, Cast a Road Before Me, had no changes? And I thought it was due to my magnificent brilliance as an author? Well, suddenly I wasn’t so magnificent anymore. My editorial review letter for EOE was, oh, about 12 pages.

Single spaced.

At the time, Dave Lambert was the editor for Zondervan. Dave is known in the business as one of the best—and the hardest. He has wonderful insights. And his letters go on for pages as he explains the weaknesses he sees in a story. We novelists at Zondervan call these our “Dave letters.” They are infamous. One best-selling author who shall remain nameless has the current record for the longest Dave letter. Twenty-two pages.

One thing I have learned from Dave. Even a highly polished, well crafted novel needs editing. And by this point, Eyes of Elisha was highly polished. After all, I had spent ten years and countless rewrites on the thing. It should be in good shape. Still, he found some weak spots, and took the time to thoroughly explain what he saw. Like a good editor, he didn’t tell me how to fix these weaknesses. He just pointed them out to me, then let me figure out how best to deal with them.

I should add that today, Dave Lambert has left Zondervan to be a freelance editor. Karen Ball is now my wonderful Zondervan editor. However Dave still does a lot of freelance work for Z, so my books now receive edits from—you guessed it, both of them. Sheesh. Talk about making me want to kick cabinets. These two keep me on my toes. But it's all worth it. My books are way better than they’d be without the keen eyes of both Dave and Karen.

So at any rate, I got my first Dave letter. Twelve pages. Man, when I opened up that email attachment, I nearly had a heart attack. But I dug in—deep. The rewrite took a couple of weeks. I turned it in with bated breath, not really sure what happened next. But voila! Next thing I knew, I’d received the formal “your manuscript has been accepted” letter that meant everything was okay. It also meant I could be paid the second half of the advance for the book.

Whee! Now this is what you call the fun part of writing.

Then, back to reality. The phone rings. It’s Jane. She’s heard back from Editor B, who’s taken Getting Into Character to pub board.

Drat. I really am not ready for this conversation. It’s just that everything has been going so great. After ten years of Nos, I’ve gotten some real good Yeses, and I’m not hankering to go back to hearing rejections again. The year 2000 began horribly. Finally got good. Doggone it all, do I have to end it on other bad note?

I sit down, already feeling my heart tighten, preparing itself.

“Okay, Jane. Shoot.”

Read Part 35


Karen said...

Wow. At some point this has got to feel overwhelming for you.

Dave Lambert has a special place in my heart as well. He critiqued a ms. of mine for a conference a few years back. Unfortunately, at the time I did not realize the "gold" I held in my hand. He was the best instructor I have ever had for a week long fiction track at a conference. If I ever see his name for faculty at a conference again, I will be there no matter how far I have to fly--plane or flapping my arms.

C.J. Darlington said...

What? Are you kidding? I certainly hope your saga isn't over. How else will I get my daily fix of Brandilyn Bits?

And thanks again for the chat last night on Dancing Word. That was fun. I didn't know a thing about the form when I first poked in -- butted in, really. Oops. Well, I learned quickly. :-)

Kelly said...

Yesterday wasn't a Bobby Ewing style dream treatment was it?

You didn't paint a positive picture because you thought we were blue from holding our breath? With the intention of sucking us back under today did you?

Two things have led me to this possible conclusion. The happy ending yesterday on - day 33 and the hook on today - day 33. Hmmmmm methinks we are being toyed with.

D. Gudger said...

Hi Brandilyn,
I've been lurking a little while on your blog (C.J. recommended it to me :)) I've read a chunk of your personal saga, but hope to maybe find the time to just start from the beginning and read it all. It is helpful to see HOW the publishing process works, and that your EOE book took 10 years! I don't feel so bad for being about a year into the writing of my first novel.
I bought EOE yesterday and can't wait to read it. Suspense is THE genre!
I'm hoping to learn more about how to WRITE in this genre since I have no problem reading it. My target audience is young adult.
Thanks for sharing your story!

Becky said...

So sorry to have missed your chat. Hope you do another one again soon.

What do we want to talk about when the NES is over? Well, I think you've seen some of what's on our minds in the comments.

I'd suggest NOT snakes (very happy to hear your decision regarding no snake book! ; ) But do return to the New Book Calendar. I'm really curious about that, because you have this 6 pp a day goal, yet I know you do extensive research when new things pop up, and you do all this getting to know your character work. So how can you be writing so soon when just last week you had no idea what the series would be about?

I have questions about the Dave letter, too. Are these line edits? Content? Does he take the novel a chapter at a time and point out such and such on page whichever?

And another thing. What are your thoughts about writing two books a year? Do you really have enough opportunity to market when you have to keep them coming so fast?

And no, this BG has no intention of leaving you to your spiders. Hahah.


Ron Estrada said...

Unlike Andy, I will remain with the BG's. I enjoyed the chat last night, Brandilyn. I had to bail early. I get up at 5. Besides, chat rooms move sooooo sloooow. One thing I get out of all this, and I'm sure it will be tough to remember at times, is that publishers are actually in business to make money. A new writer is a major risk. We know because we've all read some bad ones. I'll keep cheering you on and praying for the elimination of all spiders in the Bay Area. You could just move to Michigan. We have five months without spiders because it's too cold to sustain life.