April 29, 2015

Wednesday, April 29

This week has been dedicated to cleaning and organizing my office. When we moved into this older, cottage style house nearly three years ago, the room I chose to be my office had a teeny, tiny closet. (How in the world was it EVER used for clothes storage?) I had deadlines to meet during that move, and after, so I shoved things into the closet until such time I had the nerve to tackle it.  At this moment, my neat little office isn’t so neat.

I’ve found so much old stuff. Old ideas jotted in old notebooks or on old scraps of paper, old short stories (some completed, some left undone for a good reason). A file folder bulging with carbon copies (yes, carbon copies) of query letters. Oh, my, I wish someone would have taught me how to write one back then. They are truly awful, but I’ll keep them to show new writers I made the same mistakes they make now. Maybe they’ll derive some comfort and hope. I have also unearthed enough writing tips to fill a book, discovered several packages of manilla envelopes, new and used file folders, and plenty of dust.

Then there are all those early book manuscripts. The ones where I was just beginning to crawl as a writer. The ones where I was finally able to walk as a writer were marginally better. By books five and six, I more or less knew what I was doing but still needed a lot of work and practice before I could even consider of entering any marathons.

I’m not finished with this cleaning/organizing task, but I know one thing for sure. Never, ever throw away book or story manuscripts. They might be old and dusty, yellowed with age, but they hold a lot of gold. Some of it can be mined. The first April Grace book, In Front of God and Everybody, proves that. It was an old book, chucked away for years.

I have a book coming out soon that was written nearly twenty years ago. It’s been polished and revised, brought up to date, but still, it’s a story salvaged from my desk drawer. Dare I say, it’s really good. I think so, anyway. I hope so.

April 22, 2015

Wednesday, April 22.

Honest to goodness, is there anything more tedious to a writer than final edits? Not the first ones where our editors ask for revisions or rewrites, or even the painful edits where we slash our babies, eviscerating a ton of unnecessary prose. I’m talking about the very last bits and bobs: a comma  here, an extra space there, a word that’s been deleted, a lost ellipsis … all those pesky little varmints that we seem to overlook during the first two or three rounds of editing.

I got up this morning at 5, and here it is, 8:15, and I’m only on page 130 of a 327 page manuscript. My back aches, my eyes crossed a long time ago, and boredom is drilling a hole in my brain. But, it must be done. I am not offering to you, my reader, anything less than the best I can do. If that means suffering through hours of seeking, replacing, deleting, or otherwise cleaning words, then it’s worth it.

April 21, 2015

Tuesday, April 21st.

This past week has been a busy one. I enjoy teaching the writing class. It’s a small group of fascinating women, each in various stages of writing development. Since I primarily teach fiction writing, those who expect a course in poetry or how to write for magazines will be disappointed.

I have short-term memory problems (is that age or is it just me??), so I wait until the day of the class before preparing the evening’s agenda. Putting things off makes me nervous and uncomfortable. I like to get busy and accomplish what I set out to do. In this instance, though, I believe waiting until the eleventh hour is best for all concerned.

Progress continues on Upside Down and Whopperjawed. If I had nothing else to do and devoted most of my time to this story, I could finish in about six weeks. Maybe less. April Grace Reilly often seems to sit on the corner of my desk, telling me about her day and the crazy people in her life. Recording her tale in her sassy, witty voice ensures that the story basically tells itself.

Not every novel I write is this easy or this much fun. But that’s another topic for another time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I had to step away from this journal for a few days. I wanted to make sure my readers could subscribe and receive each day’s update, if they wanted to. Add to that, we had a long-anticipated guest come to visit, and I preferred to use my time with him rather than with my computer.

For several weeks, I’ve been wrangling with the first book in The Cassidys Series. Although I have eagerly anticipated launching this new series, I just could not lay hold of it in my mind. I’ve learned if you have to fight with a story, forcing your way through it is far from the best way to go.

My publisher gave me the nod to put that series on hold for a while, as long as I can give him something else by the deadline. One thing I have plenty of is ideas. They practically ooze from my pores and puddle around my feet. I mentioned a couple of book ideas, and he chose one that I had started years ago.

I dug it out, blew off the virtual dust, and began familiarizing myself with the story again. Uh oh. This book needs work.

Thank God for editors who are willing to look at old, rough drafts and brainstorm to help you get restarted. So I sent those 100+ pages to my editor today. While I wait for her to get to it, I might as well get started on the fifth April Grace story.

Or finish outlining Honey Dipped Secrets for Annie’s Publishing.


What Have I Done?! What Shall I Do?

After reading a great post by Madison Woods:  https://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/sunday-musings-a-writers-business-plan/ I realized I needed to be a little more diligent this year so I can reach my goals and fulfill all my contracts and commitments.

This past year I finally saw the firsts fruits of my 30-year overnight success. That’s right. Thirty years to reach this point. Probably 99.9% of people would have given up by now.  I’m inching up on the age of retirement, but I have a few inches still to go. However, the career for which I’ve yearned and worked is just now opening. No retirement until I’m in an urn at the crematorium.

In May of 2011, my first book in the “Confessions of April Grace series,” In Front of God and Everybody, was released by Thomas Nelson.

In June of 2011, my first book for the “Annie’s Attic Mysteries” series, Deed in the Attic, was released by DRG Publishers.

In December of 2012, the second book of “Confessions of April Grace,” Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks, was released.

I was also asked to be a regular columnist for Christian Fiction Online Magazine, a marvelous publication for writers and readers of all ages. https://christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/

I also signed contracts for

  • The Unfinished Sonata, release date: Feb, 2012
  • Chocolate-Covered Baloney, (3rd of Confessions of April Grace) release date: Fall, 2012
  • Eastgate Church Keeps on Singing, release date: e-book, July 2012, paperback, Oct 2012
  • Redemption, release date: e-book and paperback, Dec 2012
  • Whited Sepulchres, release date: e-book and paperback, February, 2013
  • A Stony Point Christmas, release date, December, 2012

Fortunately, these books have been written, except for A Stony Point Christmas, which has an April deadline–and which I have not yet started to write. Eastgate has a deadline of April, also, and though it’s finished, I’m not happy with parts of it. Chocolate-Covered Baloney will be facing some rewrites as soon as my editors are ready for me to make them.

After reading Madison’s encouraging words about a “plan,” I realize how badly I need a plan. Not only do I have new books and a column to write and editing to do, I have a hubby and daughters to love and hang around with, a presence on Facebook I plan to continue and enhance, a blog that needs more of my time and attention, a house that will stink to high heaven and stick to the soles of our shoes if I don’t clean it, and friendships I want to nurture. Oh, and I forgot to mention the book signings and speaking engagements I have committed to doing this coming year. In fact, I’ve been asked to participate in 3 different writing events all on the same weekend, and I’m just not sure which one will receive my attention.

Yeah, I need a plan, because when I get overwhelmed, my brain stops and so do I. I sit down and hours go by while I try to decide where priorities lie. I think Madison has a great idea. Now, if I can just create a workable, doable plan and follow it!