Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'm Baaaack

Happy Tuesday, from my favorite place in the world—Coeur d’Alene. Yes, I made it here yesterday on a very empty stomach, but gaining some of my strength back. Monday—oh, man. The stomach bug hit me Saturday at midnight. I had to get up at 6 a.m. Sunday to start on the trip—driving this time, so we can have a second car in Idaho for the duration of the summer. A two-day road trip, and I’m shaking and feeling like a truck hit me. By the time we (daughter and I) hit the hotel late afternoon, all I could think about was going to bed. Many thanks to Gayle, my assistant, who played pinch hitter for the blog.

How did I get my assistant, you ask? Well, I hired her. About a year and a half ago, when I saw that the marketing stuff was just getting too much for me. Gayle helps get out my newsletter, maintains data bases, sends out mailings, all that sort of thing. I couldn’t do without her. More and more of my colleagues are hiring her now, because they all need help. It’s an interesting phenomenon for authors—the more successful you become, the less time you have to write, because more of your time is demanded for marketing issues. You’d think marketing/publicity would go down as you sell more books, but nope. The more books you sell, the more people want your time—for interviews, for this or that. And the more readers you need to connect with. So—enter Gayle and her business, Word Count. If you’re an author out there who’s reached the place where you need office assistance, e-mail Gayle at:
gayle@wordcount.biz. Tell her I sent you. (And hope she doesn’t hold that against you.)

Another question I had from yesterday—what agent did I end up with after Jane Jordan Browne passed away? Jane had an assistant in her office, Danielle Egan-Miller, who took over her agency upon Jane’s passing. So I didn’t need to move anywhere—I just stayed put.

Let’s see. Someone else asked what’s one thing I’d like to improve in my writing.


Well, that’s one word, isn’t it?

Besides just getting better at the output, I wish I could write faster. And come up with ideas easier. That planning a new book thing just gets me every time.

Okay. Other than that, I got a buncha weird questions. Sent in by C.J. I figure she’s just trying to get me back for editing her action scene—and taking 17 days to do it. She’ll probably edit my answers—online, through the comments, of course. Okay, C.J., they’re all yours:

What are your all-time top 3 favorite novels? There is no way I can answer this question. I’m not even sure I could name my top 20 or 30. The problem is, I could name some great novels, but I know I’ll leave out others that should have been named. So I'm gonna dodge the question.

What book(s) are you reading now? Just returned from the ChiLibris retreat, where one of the big bonuses is that you get free books from all other members attending. So I came home with 50-60 books. Yowsa! (The publishers supply these books so we can give them out to each other.) I just read The Victory Club, Robin Lee Hatcher’s latest, and Shattered Justice, Karen Ball’s latest. Just started the ARC (advanced reader copy) for Fallen From Babel, by T.L. Higley. This is one of the first novels in the new Realms line (that features futuristic and supernatural kinds of Christian fiction) from Strang. It will be on shelves in another month or two.

What's in your CD player? I was born in 1956. Which means I was a teenager through the great era of rock bands. And I still listen to ’em. Journey, Kansas, Boston, Chicago, Foreigner, Bon Jovi (although they didn’t come until the 80’s), Derek & the Dominoes, CCR, Styx, Little River Band, etc. I also loved the boy band era—Nsync, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees. I can’t stand rap, although I’ve listened to plenty, thanks to my daughter (now 15). My favorite rock song ever—The Wall, by Kansas. Not a main release; an album cut. Wonderful, amazing words. The guy who wrote it is now a Christian.

If you could have dinner with one person living or dead, who would it be? Definitely Jesus. I’d ask him all kinds of questions. Like—“That ‘angel of the Lord’ thing in the Old Testament—was that really You?” “Why were you so unkind to the Canaanite woman whose daughter was possessed?” (At least, it sounds unkind to me.) “Tell me about Your childhood.” “How on earth do You put up with me?” Etc.

By the way, there's a brand new book out called Dinner With a Perfect Stranger, co-published by Waterbrook and Random House (which owns Waterbrook). It's a novella about a guy who's invited to have dinner with Jesus. He thinks it's a joke, so attends. But there's this guy in a business suit who insists he's Jesus. The man starts asking him all kinds of questions--hard ones, like "How can you say you're the only way heaven?" It's a wonderful little book of the conversation between these two as Jesus answers some of the hard questions of our times. This is a great book to give to a nonbeliever.

Favorite vacation spot? Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. And, thankfully, it’s not just a vacation anymore—I live here. (Part time for now, full time in the future.)

What items can always be found in your refrigerator? (Oh, please, I just had stomach flu.)

Your parents always told you ... ? “You can do anything you set your mind to. We believe in you.”

What gadget couldn't you live without? Just one? Okay—a computer, ’cause I couldn’t talk to my BGs. But I’d be pretty unhappy without a blow dryer, too.

If you were stuck on an island, what three things couldn't you live without? My Bible, sunscreen, my Select Comfort bed.

How do you relax? Read. Jog. Try to forget about deadlines.

Okay, BGs. That's enough answers for today. Dineen, I'll get to your question tomorrow. But please clarify--you said something about "show versus tell." Are you asking me what that means, or what? The rest of you--if you leave questions for tomorrow, I’ll answer as many as possible. About writing, technical problems in your wip, whatever. If you don’t leave questions, then I’ll have to come up with a topic. And that could be dangerous . . .


Anonymous said...

What should happen in the first three chapters of any story--not just thriller/suspense--that makes an editor say "I've got to buy this"?


C.J. Darlington said...

Lol, Brandilyn. Gayle asked for questions ... :-) There's a feature in our local Sunday paper here that features a local person and asks these type of questions. Thought it might be a change. Man. 50-60 books? That's a reader's dream come true!

As far as writing questions, let's see. How much do you know about a character before you start writing? Are you the type to have an extensive character dossier before starting, or do you discover the character along with the reader? Somewhere inbetween?

Lynette Eason said...

Hi and welcome back. We missed you. I have a question for ya...not that i don't like the topics YOU come up with, but...

Do you always write the same way? For example: Do you first plot out your book before you start writing the actual story one time, then the next time you just start writing, then the next time, you do a character sketch first...etc.

or do you have a set "Formula" for writing your stories? thanks,

Lynette E

Domino said...

So glad you're feeling better.

Do you spend more time on any one part of your book? Or do you write it straight through and send it in?

I've been spending a lot of time trying to get the beginning smoothed out with my fine tooth comb, but I also have changed the ending a couple of times to make it really work. So, now, I'm tightening a few places in the middle - don't want that middle-aged paunch in my stories. In light of all that, I guess I've spent more time on my beginning.

Happy you're back!

D. Gudger said...

Here's a use-of-time question: Tomorrow I will be leaving for Eastern Europe which means a LOT of plane time. My laptop only give 2hr battery time (there's a sacrafice for less weight). I'm looking at about 13 hrs on planes, and four or five or more in airports. What would be the best way to work on my lately neglected novel? I want to take advantage of this travel time . . .
Darcie :)

Becky said...

Glad you're feeling better, Brandilyn.

So, no exciting, "Gayle came to my book signing by accident, but stayed to meet me and said, You need an assistant, the same day dh said I should hire one" story? Well, I guess there can't be a story behind everything. Heh heh.

My question: of all the things you do for promotion--bookmarks, conference speaking, newsletter, contests, blogging, stuff I don't know about--what do you think has been the most helpful and why so?


Stuart said...

Welcome back & glad you're feeling better!

So what do you do when you get writer's block? Keep pushing through gritting your teeth and bearing it? Or hop off someplace to try and let it simmer and wait for it to click?

Oh and it is over the top to have one character run up another character's back and crush his spinal column with his jaws?

*whistles innocently and dashes off*

Emily Arseneau said...

I keep reading on websites and mags for writers that you should know your genre so you can target agents/publishers who specialize in that field. But I have yet to find an explanation or definition of what each genre is. Like...what exactly is the difference between mainstream, women's lit, inspirational romance, literary, blah, blah, blah? Even if you can refer me to a site that can shed some light on this, I'd take that so you can spend time on other questions.

Dineen A. Miller said...

Hi Brandilyn,
So glad you're back and feeling better.

As far as show and tell, it's about grasping the difference as I write and knowing when it's okay to tell.

I understand telling is static, where as showing is active, but sometimes it's hard to identify. I don't want to go to extremes either, which is what I see happening with some rules. Thanks for the help!