Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Writer Interrupted

Wouldn't it be great if there were never any interruptions in our lives as writers? If only we could shut out the world for the day and write our hearts out. If that were reality, I know this writer would get a manuscript finished in a much shorter span of time. But alas, it is not the real world. We will face a multitude of interruptions.

Dealing with it is sometimes frustrating. But if you accept that fact that things are not going to always go the way you wish, and that your schedule is going to have stuff knocking it aside, life is easier.

I have to share with you that I've had a marvelous experience this month...a kind of revelation on what direction to take in regards to the current book I've been writing. Advice --- look at each and every bump in the road that might set you back in your story as a positive. How do I know that to be true? I've experienced it enough times to know.

I started writing Beside Two Rivers just prior to when I signed my Abingdon contract. I sent a portion of it to my editor, who graciously called me and let me know there was a problem with two characters in regards to who and what they were. Even though, their position, race, gender, etc. was historically acurate for the times, I pondered her comments and realized how wise she was in the advice she gave me. Characters are the bones of your story. Make them people your readers will care about, relate to, and come alongside during their trials.

Anyway, I proceeded to dismantle these two characters. One was transformed into an old family servant that had been with the character of Eliza since her childhood, and jouneys from England to the New World with her. The other changed completely, to a fiery red-headed indentured servant named Sarah...who may end up having her story told in a third book.

I worked through the rest of the manuscript, until by September, I was three quarters of the way finished. Then everything stopped within me. It wasn't exactly writers block...but a long pause. Then I got a comment from an editor that said the beginning read like a prologue. Hmm. Thoughts and ideas began to stir and I then realized the beginning chapters of Beside Two Rivers have to go into another novel...Eliza's story. Before the Scarlet Dawn.

What these moments of 'writer interrupted' gave me was a three-book series. The Dusk to Dawn Series. Book 1 is Eliza's story, how she struggled to gain the love and acceptance of the man she adores, her jouney in the Maryland wilderness, her lonely life when he goes off to war, the birth of her daughter Darcy, and the trials that beset her that cause her to fall from grace. Book 2 is Darcy's story, and her journey to discover the truth about her parents, and her relationship with an Englishman who is mysteriously connected to her mother. Book 3 will be Sarah's story and how she came to indenture herself. I haven't written the proposal for Book 3, but I have for Books 1 and 2. Those are with an editor of a major Christian publishing house who kindly requested them.

So interruptions can lead to developments in your writing career that are huge stepping stones. Embrace them and seek out what exactly God is leading you into. If you are quiet, humble, and listen, you'll know.

A bit more since I haven't blogged in so long.

My computer completely up and died. I backed up my manuscripts but may have lost other documents. We are hoping we can retrieve them from the hard drive.

I'll be signing books at the Cokesbury Christian Bookstore in Baltimore on Saturday, November 21 from 11:30 to 2.

I'll be signing copies of Surrender the Wind at the Hagerstown Hometown Holiday Book Festival on Saturday, November 28 at the Virginia Avenue Church of God from 1 to 4.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Writer's Saturday

After a busy week of planning for the Home for the Holidays Book Festival, and working on the new novel, I went to bed last night with a sigh that Saturday would greet me when I open my eyes again. Hubbie and I went to China Garden for lunch, one of the oldest and best Chinese restaurants in Frederick, Maryland. Afterward we headed up Route 15, a scenic drive that heads north toward Gettysburg. Our destination was Thurmont and Colorfest. Every October the entire little town has a mass yard sale. I can't believe what I got for $1.75.

Now, on the way my mind was absorbing the beauty of the farms, the fields rife with white flea bane, and the Catoctin Mountains to the left of us which are now turning with the autumn colors. You probably experience this same thing while riding down a country road. 

Yet, something caught my eye that totally distracted me from my moment of writer's euphoria. Along the side of the road I spotted a handmade sign, about the size of a yard sale sign that read 'Biscuits and Gravy'. We both saw it and said, 'Hmm. What's that all about.' Another sign approached about 10-15 yards ahead that read 'Scrapple Puddin'. We were further taken back and laughed. Then another sign. 'Liver and Onions'. Then 'Next right'.  

The signs were for Eunice's Restaurant. On the way home on the other side of the road, were the same signs. I told my hubby these people are brilliant. I bet that people pull into this little restaurant out of sheer curiosity. These are definitely not dishes in the top ten favorites. But isn't it a bit interesting they'd advertise in this way?

Back at home I did a search online and found a couple articles in local newspapers about this country cooking retreat. Five stars, and the fare was more than liver and onions and scrapple puddin'. Crab cakes and desserts to die for. And Eunice's has a page on Facebook! Wow. They urge customers to come in and try their Reeses peanut butter, key lime, and pumpkin pies, and coconut cake.

All this got me thinking about a twist in marketing. What can we as an author do similar to this, in honesty of course, to attract readers? What little signs can you put up on the electronic highway that spark curiosity? 

I'm giving it the weekend to think it over.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lavender Ladies and Purple Prose

Forget the 'Purple Prose' part. That was just to draw you in. I know I'm bad, and I apologize for that. However the 'Lavender Ladies' is a real deal. I could call them 'Shades of Lavender Ladies Book Club' due to their fab photo where each is wearing that stunning color I adore in sweaters and tops. Really, they are 'The Boyd's Book Reading Circle', and they chose Surrender the Wind for their October read.

It really touches this writers heart to hear that a book club has chosen my novel and will be discussing it. It's a bit scary too. But that's okay. 

I'm still running toward the finish line tape for Beside Two Rivers, and set my deadline for January 1. But for the last couple weeks, I am at a rapid walk instead of a sprint. A huge event is on the horizon Thanksgiving weekend that I am co-coordinating with best selling suspense author Wanda Dyson and writer Leah Morgan. It's going to be a huge book signing event in Hagerstown, Maryland, consisting of 13 authors (as of this date) some Christy Award winners. I'll let you know more later.

For now, I have to close, but not without sending my regards to the Boyd's Book Reading Circle. Thanks, ladies.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Not Enough Hours

As I grow older, the days seem to go by swifter. Where they were once placid currents, they are now either cascading rapids, or deep waters. As an author, more hours seem to go into marketing and promotion than writing. I am yearning for a getaway to the mountains where I can sit and write by hand all day.

I went on a one-day trip 3 hours from my home into the western mountains of Maryland. It was beautiful and remote. We stopped at the Savage River. Four hours went by without the sound of an airplane, people, only the occassional fisherman driving down the road to the Orvis Lodge. It was so incredibly quiet and peaceful among the soft murmur of the river and the calls of chipmunks and chicadees.

I read. I prayed. I wrote one page. Just one, but it was good.