Thursday, May 19, 2005

How I Got Here, Part 56

First an answer to Tina's question of yesterday. Do I think the suffering from Lyme was worth it? Yes! God taught me so much. Psalm 119:71 says "It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes." Verse 92 says, "If Thy law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction." Fantastic Psalm, that 119.

We’re almost to the end of our NES, can you believe it? We left off with my healing two years ago, and finishing Brink of Death. In spring of 2004—just in time for another Mount Hermon--the novel came out. I was excited about this novel. First in my new contract, and in a new series. Plus—I couldn’t remember writing ¾ of it, so I figured it would be interesting reading, myself. Haha.

Mount Hermon was fun in another way—I got to teach for the first time. As in co-leading the major morning track on fiction. Funny thing is, they wanted me to teach with some other crazy novelist named Randy Ingermanson. I’m telling ya right now—I can be pretty crazy in person, and Randy is certifiably crazy. The two of us—on a stage together?

It’s amazing Mount Hermon survived.

It’s been a year now since Brink of Death came out. (It hit the bestseller list, by the way. And guess what—Eyes of Elisha came back on with it, 2 ½ years after its publication! First time for me to have two books on the list at once. Still waitin’ for that to happen again.) Anyhow I thought I’d entertain y’all with a few letters I’ve received about Brink of Death. I’ve got a whole file of ’em, but these are entertaining, especially the one I’ll save for last.

Letter excerpt #1: I gave my hubby (who reads Dean Koontz and Jeffrey Deaver and a few other secular authors who branch into the weird and scary) Brink of Death for Christmas. He looked at it and said rather disparagingly, “Brandilyn? Isn’t that a woman?” I said, “Yes, but don’t hold that against her.” He smiled, thanked me, and set it aside to read his Koontz and Deaver stuff first. He finally picked up yours about a week ago just to please me, muttering about how could a woman possibly write something that would interest him. And now he’s HOOKED! He actually came to me and read parts and commented on how well written it is. He’s asked for more of your work for Valentine’s day and his birthday (later this month). He never expected to read any female authors. Just thought you’d like to know you won over Mr. Picky.

I’d call him more like Mr. Testosterone Prejudiced. Lesson to be learned: don’t be a gender snob.

Letter excerpt #2: Here’s my story about reading Brink of Death. One night after my husband left for work, I read until about 12:30 a.m. Then I tossed and turned for a few hours, finally falling asleep. I woke up sitting straight up, looking at a pair of red eyes, my heart pounding so hard I thought it would explode. I knew something was in my room and going to kill me. I asked Jesus to save me. Then I realized that I had spun myself around in bed and my feet and head were at the wrong ends. The two red eyes were actually red lights on my alarm clock.

After discovering there was nothing in the house but myself and Jake the dog, I fell into a deep sleep, only to be awakened by loud pounding on our bedroom window. Aah! Very cautiously going to the window, I pulled back the shades to find my husband staring at me. He had forgotten his house keys and had been pounding on the doors and ringing the bell, unable to wake me. I’m usually a very light sleeper but remember, I had a very busy night with the boogie man.

I love your books, but no longer read them at night or when I’m alone!

Lessons to be learned about reading my suspense alone at night: (1) Don’t. (2) Never use an alarm clock with red dots that look like eyes. (3) Make sure your spouse remembers the house keys.

And now for Letter #3. First, a word of explanation. This person, who shall remain anonymous for reasons soon to become obvious, did not write me. This person wrote my publisher, using an email address on Zondervan’s Web site. Thinking that the letter would get to the fiction editor. Fortunately for this person, it didn’t. It was forwarded to me instead. Its subject line was: Simile Suicide. Hm. Nice alliteration.

I have been writing professionally for 13 years, but I must confess that Christian thriller is a new beast to me. But when my longtime friend, an editor at ______ [secular publisher of nonfiction books, mostly texts] suggested I check out the genre (she is convinced my latest project, a thriller, ______ [title of manuscript], would be a good fit for the Christian market), I bought Brink of Death.

This writer then goes on to discuss in detail how horribly I write, putting specific emphasis on my techniques for description. Continues on to call these horrible mistakes those of a blaring beginner. (Blaring beginner? Do you think that was supposed to read glaring? I don’t know, blaring beginner has some nifty alliteration.) And then the person ends up accosting my editor, wondering how in the world did these mistakes slip by?

Here’s the kicker ending:

If the editor thought Brink of Death was top notch writing, my manuscript should blow him away. Who should I send it to?

Lessons learned: Let’s see, where do I start? Maybe it’s just me, but taking a publisher to task about one of their authors, calling said author a “blaring beginner,” questioning the efficacy of the editor and wondering how said editor ever let this book get published—then turning around and wanting same editor to look at this person’s own work . . . I don’t know, do ya think this writer won friends and influenced people?

Besides, my editor is a she.

There's that gender thing again.

Read Part 57


C.J. Darlington said...

What? NES is almost over? This has been an amazing journey to follow, Brandilyn. Again, thanks for taking the time to share it. Looking forward to all the new topics of the future.

Kelly K said...

Thanks for the laughs, today. Fortunately I wasn't in the middle of sipping my coffee when I read the second letter.
Hey, how's Paige?

D. Gudger said...

I'm almost finished with EYES OF ELISHA - I love it!

Knowing your story makes reading your books more gripping.

After having had several days of classes with Randy Ingermanson, I'd have loved to been in that class with BOTH of you. He referenced you alot - in good ways. :)

Cindy Q said...

Ha! I think I know the person who wrote that third letter! We were once in a writers group together. Ha! (I'm no longer in that group!)

Brandilyn, thanks again for the encouragment you give. What a powerful ministry!

Becky said...

So, was that MH fiction track your first teaching?!!?

Still wondering how that came about. Did the organizers approach you with the idea to team with Randy or you thought teaming was a good idea or they came to him and he said, only if Brandilyn teams with me or ... or ... or ...?

Anyway, you were excellent. Funny, yes, but also instructive--good stuff, meat and potatoes with a generous helping of vegetables.

Ron Estrada said...

Come to think of it, I'd never read a woman suspense or thriller writer before you. However, in my pathetic defense, I love Jan Karon and Francine Rivers. AND I just started a Colleen Coble. Robin of ACFW fame told me I had to. AND all of my crit partners are of the fairer sex. So there. I stand vindicated. I can use Ronnie as a pen name and really confuse people.

Evelyn said...

I was at Mt. Hermon that year - the fiction track was great! I learned a lot (and laughed a lot). You and Randy made a good team. Don't recall who started it, but it was being called the "Randilyn -Brandilyn show."