Wednesday, May 04, 2005

How I Got Here, Part 46

Happy Wednesday.

I appreciated the comments from yesterday. Found myself nodding my head, saying “Yes, yes!” to numerous points made. And honestly, BGs, last week when I began to write about those spiritual warfare days, I didn’t want to do it. But I felt I should. Now I see why. Sometimes God kicks us out of our comfort zones.

After the victory that I described yesterday, I took up writing the rest of Capture the Wind for Me—and found plenty of passion for doing so. And when the rewrite time came, although that was one of my harder rewrites, I threw myself into it as well. In the end, I really did like the book. I confess, Color the Sidewalk for Me remains my favorite in the Bradleyville series. But Wind is not too far behind it. The good thing about Wind is, since it features a 16-year-old protagonist, it has become a favorite of teenage girls as well as adults. Women mostly. But the male readers will surprise ya. Recently I heard from a man in his, I don’t know, late 60s maybe, who confessed he never would have read the book because of its “womanly cover” but did so because his agent told him to study the prologue for his own writing. He planned to read only the prologue but later wrote that he was “hooked from the first paragraph” and absolutely had to read the whole book. He really enjoyed it.

You never know the readers you’ll reach.

I tell you this simply as another example of God’s grace in my life. He gave me victory over the forces that would have kept me from writing this novel, then look what He did with it. He helped me create a story that would touch both young and old, male and female. This is God’s mercy and power, and He gets the credit as far as I’m concerned. As the Psalm says, “Not to me, O Lord, but to You be the glory.”

Of course, telling about the completion of Wind and its rewrite is getting ahead of my story. I need to return to the end of February 2002, right around the time when I had my spiritual epiphany. Numerous things would happen in the next two months—enough to make my head spin.

That spring Color the Sidewalk for Me was released. My third published novel. Second novel to be published by Zondervan. Now, BGs, those of you who’ve been with me for this entire story will know what the release of this book meant to me. Remember the years I spent writing it? The number of times I had to rewrite it? Remember how the manuscript got lost in my agent’s office, and she re-read the old version, costing me a number of months ranking very high on the cabinet-kicking scale? How I’d poured out all my passion in this book—the second novel I actually wrote, and the first women’s fiction I’d written? If you remember all those “How I Got Here” parts, you’ll have a taste of what I felt when I held that first published copy of Sidewalk in my hand. I was absolutely elated. What a tremendous blessing after the dark months of writing I’d just come through.

A month after its release, I started checking ye ol’ bestseller list, waiting, waiting for the new list to be posted. Finally it came online.

Sidewalk squeaked on at #20.

Hey, I’ll take squeak, especially when I was such a new name on the scene. I was thrilled!

I barely had time to turn around. Within a few weeks of Sidewalk’s release, Getting Into Character was released from John Wiley & Sons.

Oh, boy.

Okay, here we go with more vulnerable honesty from me, just for y’all BGs. Wanna know how I felt about this book hitting the shelves?

I was terrified.

I just knew the literary world would laugh me right out of it. First of all, who was I to write a book on how to write fiction anyway? When I sold the proposal, I didn’t even have a novel published. Now I’d had three, but a Donald Maas or Dwight Swain that did not make me. What’s more, I’d written a book unlike any other, a book that dared to take 7 of the techniques from method acting—sacrosanct to many actors—and adapt them for novelists. What if people laughed at my concepts?

And so the book hit shelves. And so I shivered in my shoes, wondering at the results.

Well, I didn’t get laughed out of the literary world. In fact, readers seemed to like the stuff. Yeah, it was different. Some writers couldn’t quite handle all the concepts. But I think that’s true for any how-to book. You take what works for you and leave the rest. In fact, I advocate doing that very thing. Getting Into Character is not a bunch of “rules” for writing anyway. It presents concepts and guidelines for using those concepts. But rules? Not me, folks.

So GIC’s birth turned out okay. Not an ugly baby after all. A baby that was all in all, quite agreeable. And remains that way today. Last year in a panel packed with fiction editors at a writers’ conference, each editor was asked about his/her favorite how-to books for writing fiction. I was amazed at the number of them who included Getting Into Character. It seems the book has become pretty well known among Christian novelists, editors and agents. I only wish it were as well known in the secular market. I mean, I’ll check the writing section of a B&N and always find a book on writing by some guy named Stephen King, but won’t always find my book. The thing is, if you write a book about writing, you need to have a big name in the writing world. Even if the ideas you present are pretty nifty, the lack of being Somebody Big is going to hurt your sales. And that’s where I am today with Getting Into Character. It’s a book I am now proud of, and I hear from many novelists whom it has helped. In fact many who’ve read it tend to rave about it. But apparently many still don’t know about it, because it doesn’t exactly rake in the royalties.

So. Spiritual epiphany, the release of Sidewalk, and the release of GIC. Think that’s enough for the spring of 2002?

Hold on to your hats. The biggie’s a-comin’.

Read Part 47


C.J. Darlington said...

Man, these cliffhangers are great, Brandilyn. Thanks so much for keepin' us on the edge of our seats! I'm really enjoying following your journey.

Cindy Q said...

Hi Brandilyn. Just so you know, the first time I had ever seen Getting Into Character, it was on the Writers Digest website. They reviewed it and said it was a great resource. However, they don't sell it in their "bookstore" on the website. I'm not sure why they would tell folks to get it and then not offer to sell it themselves . . .

Cindy Q

ValMarie said...

I've recently started hearing about Getting Into Character. And, of course, once I hear the title about the book from one place, then I start to hear about it from multiple sources.

Maybe this is a hint that I need to go out and buy the book...The sample portions that I've read have been very good.

Pammer said...

You have touched my life in more ways than I can count. And you have done it again with this post. Your story about the spiritual warfare is one that I needed to read and you made me realize that the gift of writing is from God and who am I to think I cannot do it when He has called me to. Thank you so much. You are in my prayers (as is your mom). :0)
In His Joy (yes I have found it).
Pammer aka the Gun Lady