December 12, 2015

Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015

That darker, deeper, more serious book I’ve mentioned a time or two has been giving me fits. Many authors don’t bother to title their books. They’d rather let their editors do it for them. Not me. I need a real title in order to feel as if I’m working on a real book.

I have spent hours seeking a title. I poured over the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Shakespeare. I looked in my trusty, beat-up old book of quotes. I scoured the internet. I meditated. I sent the story outline to some friends and begged their help. I developed a short list of possibilities, but none of it resonated.  I was ready to give up and call it “Untitled Book”.

At my desk a few days later, I found a small slip of paper clinging wetly to the bottom of my glass of sweet tea. I peeled it off, but just as I pitched the damp scrap into the trash basket, I noticed something written on it.  At some point in my frenzied search for a title, I had scrawled a snippet from Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.  Five words.  “The glory and the dream”.

There it was. I had my title. Apparently I’d had it for days and didn’t realize it.

Funny how we don’t recognize what we need until we’ve exhausted our resources and decide to give up. At that point, we discover our answer in the strangest places. It’s been there all along.

Journal Entry for November 17, 2015

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Oh my ears and whiskers.

*takes out watch and looks at it*

I do feel somewhat like the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland: busy, late, more than a little anxious.

You may have noticed that I’ve been “away.” Not away, away. But away from journal writing. In the flurry of these last few months, I neglected it terribly.

This has long been a problem with me and diaries. More pressing matters tend to push journaling into the background until it resembles the underside of my bed, all cobwebby and dusty and forgotten.

Update: I’ve finished the projects I was working on earlier this year.

Also, I have finished the first book in what I hope will be a new series for children. It is in the editor’s queue right now. Keep your fingers crossed!

I’m writing a new book for yet another line of mysteries for Annie’s Fiction. Confidentiality dictates that I can’t tell you too much about that yet, but I’ll share more when I can.

Then, there’s the new book I’m working on. It is not under contract nor have I even approached any editor with the premise, but I really like it. A serious story set in rural 1930s Georgia about the bastard child of a poor white man and beautiful black woman. Stepping a little out of my familiar zone on this one, but I want to be stretched as a writer. This book will stretch me.

So, as you see, I’ve not been lazy. Just away.

Until next time ….

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.

March 25, 2015

Wednesday, March 25

I woke up at 4am, or shortly thereafter. I might have drifted back to sleep in my warm, comfy bed if I hadn’t had a hair appointment this morning. Now, this might not have been such a big deal, except my last appointment was postponed a week because of bad weather, then I completely forgot and missed the new appointment. I certainly did not want that to happen again today. Yes, I have an alarm clock. Yes, it is undependable. No, I don’t have a smart phone that will wake me up. No, I don’t trust my hubs to wake me. So I got out of bed and drank two cups of coffee before 4:30.

Once the writing machine was warmed up and purring, I went through the final round of edits for April Grace. (They came back from my editor last night.) (Gosh, she’s a whiz.) Then I wrote the dedication page (yay! I love doing that) and the acknowledgments page (always a good idea to let folks know you appreciate them). Everything is now back in the editor’s lap, and soon will be in the publisher’s lap.

Photo shoot for the cover is coming up. I’ve never been present for that, so I’m looking forward to it.

Oh, and I “got my hair did.” Finally.

Ah, the excitement of a writer’s life is almost more than I can bear. (Ahem.)

Slogging Through the Mire of the Unnecessary, Unneeded and Unwanted

I am slogging my way through a novel to glean a few necessary tidbits of information buried somewhere within the text. When I say slogging, I mean slogging. I’m forced to read things like, “She turned on the light. Then she turned on the furnace.” OK, not so bad, really, but then the author shows the character doing every little detail when simply writing She got the house ready for company would have been far shorter than the two pages of dish-washing, bed-making, vegetable-chopping, table-setting, etc etc etc.

There is also a lot of this type of snooze-fest:
“Hello.”
“Hello.”
“How are you?”
“I’m fine. How are you?”
“I’m fine.”
“Please come in.”
“Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Please sit down.”
“Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.”

 

This is not what you want your reader to do when he’s reading your book.

None of this led to anything other than a guest coming into the house. If you are going to go to this much trouble with so many mundane bits and pieces, there needs to be poison in the soup, or a long-lost relative waiting on the sofa, or some other reason to build tension. If you’re going to spend time turning on each light and the furnace (and I mean more than a passing mention) then the furnace needs to blow up or in the now well-lit room we should see something significant, new, or frightening.

Most of us write this way, especially when we are first finding our way. I am guilty of it myself from time to time. And there is nothing wrong with it in a first draft. But if you leave these details in rather than edit them out, you will bore, bore, bore your reader until they put your book away, never to pick it up again – or anything else you ever write. When you edit, please think of your reader and double-think these details.