Editing, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Revision, Writing

Going back to move forward

As odd as it may sound, my next step forward will be a step backward. With the preparations for the holidays ahead, I know I won’t have much time for writing, but I’ll have time for reading and thinking. Luckily, that’s exactly what I need right now.

I’ve decided to make my first novel fit for reader consumption. I completed it ten years ago, put it away, and haven’t read it since. I scanned through it a few months ago, and even cleaned up the first chapter for submission to my critique group, but I haven’t read the synopsis or even the scene list/outline because I want to read the manuscript with fresh eyes.

I know the book is not horrible, but I don’t know how much work it will take to revise it for publication. This novel started as a paranormal romance, but about a third of the way through, I discovered it didn’t follow the prescribed formula for category Romance, and I scrapped that idea. Obviously, I was not a reader of Romance novels, paranormal or otherwise. What I read at that time was a lot of Stephen King, so …

In the last few months, my writing career has slipped into a sort of depression. It’s time to shake things up. I have other ideas, some plans. I’m not psychic, I can’t say what will work, what won’t, but I’m excited about the possibilities.

Your turn: How’s your writing career moving? Do you ever feel a need to shake things up?

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Books, Fiction, Horror, Musings, Reading, Reflections

How I read from there to here!

Recently, I’ve been thinking of all the books I’ve read in my life … not that I can actually remember them all—or even a third. Specifically, I’ve thought of different categories of books and when I read them. While waiting for my first son to be born I read the likes of Updike, Angelou, and Bradbury. By the time my second son was born, less than two years after the first, I used my reading time mostly to escape with Holt, du Maurier, and Clark.

They looked like angels.

Fast forward a few years and two more sons. As I recall, at that time, my tastes in reading seemed to fall mainly in two categories: horror and humor. Hello, King and Bombeck. This probably makes perfect sense to any mothers reading this.

By that time, I was also heavily involved in the church and that’s when non-fiction began to outweigh fiction. For the next 20+ years, I read far less fiction. Oddly—or maybe not—my fiction choices during that time were almost exclusively horror. I ended that period with two large bookcases, one filled with religious books and the other with King, Straub, Rice, Harris, and non-fiction books on the supernatural.

They might kill me for this one, circa 1993!

Then, my sons were grown and I rediscovered fiction. I eased in with Auel, Binchy, Gabaldon and then, I discovered my true love—Southern fiction—in the likes of Tyler, Reynolds, Smith, Walker.  When one future daughter-in-law recommended I widen my reading scope, I discovered books most of you had probably read when they were on the bestsellers list: Marquez, Russo, Hijuelos, Proulx, McCullers, and short story collections by O’Connor and Munro. The floodgates open, it seems now I discover a new favorite fiction author every week.

How about you? Has your adult reading path meandered or or been straight and sure?

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Fiction, Read, Writing

Snail reading and writing

bookstackThere’s been some talk on agent blogs lately about how much time writers should devote to reading. By coincidence (?) in my rereading of Stephen King’s On Writing, I had just arrived at the section where he talks about reading. He says: “I’m a slow reader, but I usually get through seventy or eighty books a year, mostly fiction.”

I choked when I read that. Slow reader? What would he consider a fast reader? Someone who reads seventy or eighty books a month, maybe. Now, if any of you actually do read that many books a month—I’m in awe! Just please don’t tell me you also write two thousand words a day, like Mr. King does.

I do read. And I read on days that I’m writing. But I confess, by comparison to Mr. King, I really am a slow reader. So far this year I’ve read twenty-one books, fiction and non-fiction, plus a few dozen short stories. Of course, I’ve also read many trade magazines and online articles during this period, but that doesn’t count in book total.

And I have never written two thousand words in a single day. Though, maybe if I didn’t edit as I go, I could write two thousand words—on a good day. Not every day, like Mr. King does.

Is there hope for such a snailish writer like me? How do you measure up?

Critique, Fiction, Novel, Revision, Words, Writing

You create it, you own it

I wrote my first novel ten years ago. It began life as a romance novel and died a horror novel. No joke. Like Barbara Cartland morphing into Stephen King.

In my defense (if stupidity can be considered so) I’d never read a romance Romance before, but this was about a man and a woman and sex and all that good stuff, so that’s a romance novel, right? So, I joined the local Romance Writers of America chapter. I attended meetings and learned much from the great Alicia Rasley who co-authors a great blog Edittorrent. I even entered my first 30 pages in a major contest and received some helpful feedback. So helpful, in fact, that I learned what I had written was NOT a romance. The judges told me quite politely—considering—that you can’t have the protagonist committing adultery with a younger woman, while his adoring—and quite possibly dying—wife carries on blindly, cooking healthy meals to keep his cholesterol down and reminiscing about how he stole her heart at first sight. Bad form, that.

But … but … but … I had 80,000 words written! Sooooo, there’s always revision. What if some evil entity—immortal, of course—searching for the loving couple who escaped his wrath 200 years ago, comes to town in the guise of a realtor, meets Philandering Husband and says, “Gotcha, boy, and now I’m gonna make you pay!” Oh, the transformation was marvelous. Suddenly, I had reincarnation, telepathy, demonic possession, mind control … just all sorts of goodies to work with. Not to mention, a vicious, bloody end to Younger Woman.

But here’s the thing, I’ve never forgotten this protagonist. Every so often, I get a wave of guilt for writing him into such a mess. I feel like I owe him a better novel. So, today I dared to open those long-shut files. I was prepared to cringe at the quality of writing, but you know, it really isn’t all that bad. And sure, I’d have to lose the supernatural elements, and the violence, and it might be nice to give Darling Wife a brain, but hey, it’s 90,000 words already written! Maybe … just maybe …