Saturday, August 29, 2009

Exciting News!

Hello everyone!

Julie Papievis, my co-author on Go Back and Be Happy, will be featured on CBN sharing her amazing story on Tuesday, September 1st. To see what time and channel the show is on in your area go here!

The show will be posted to Julie's web site, Tuesday afternoon for viewing if you miss it :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

The dreaded “R” word.

The dreaded “R” word. Rejected! It’s so hard not to take that word personally, isn’t it? Rejection can either be the end or it can be the beginning. We have a choice. Just throw the manuscript in the shredder or log into that computer and start the “rewrites.”

My novel has been rejected a few times now, but I’m not giving up. The common thread has been that the editors like the characters and the story, but it’s my writing. OUCH! Okay, so I was trained as a banker, not as a novelist. My learning curve is steep, so I have donned hiking boots and am approaching this challenge with one of my key strengths I had as a banker: Analyzing. Also, I have consulted with the experts.

First, I looked at some best selling fiction authors and their books and asked myself: What makes these books different from the others in the market? The style of writing? The sentence structure? The subject matter? The characters? I compared these findings with my own manuscript and started the re-writes. In addition, I started reading more books about improving my own writing. Two books that helped me the most include: Plot & Structure Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers form start to finish by James Scott Bell (He is a wonderful person who has inspired many writers). The other book is Writing Fiction A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French. This book was recommended by a senior editor at one of the publishing houses that rejected my novel. This second book is really serious and just like the senior editor promised, it takes your writing to a higher level. However, the $75 list price makes it a real investment in your writing career, and the exercises do take time. But it’s worth it. I feel that my manuscript is now (hopefully) publish worthy.

So what did I learn from my own analysis of best selling fiction? I noticed that Karen Kingsbury typically doesn’t include “said” in her character dialogue. She instead has some kind of action tagged to the conversation that keeps the story moving forward. And of course her characters and stories are always compelling. After reading both of the “how to” books on writing fiction, I realized that the beginning of my book needed to start at a later point with a greater moment of conflict. That change has made a real difference in my novel.

I also consulted the experts, including a dear friend of mine, best selling author, Robin Jones Gunn. She gave me some great advice. “Put more of ‘your voice’ in the story. Dig deep from that well of your own experience and emotion and put that into the novel.” In reading some of my existing passages, I sounded more like a banker instead of a novelist – reporting the facts, not letting the characters express the raw emotion of their unique situations.

Bottom line, don’t give up! I’m saying this myself and to you. If there is a story that is bubbling inside your heart, write it! As my dad wrote in my first Writers’ Marketplace book many decades ago, “Write. Write. Write. Polish. Polish. Polish. Publish. Publish. Publish.”

Take-away Tidbit:
1) An excerpt from Writing Fiction quoting Lorrrie Moore: “..the proper relationship of a writer to his or her own life is similar to a cook with a cupboard. What the cook makes from the cupboard is not the same thing as what’s in the cupboard.”

2) An excerpt from Plot & Structure “Deepening is to the novel as spice is to food. This chord of fiction is generally not a full scene. It is, instead, what you add to the mix to deepen the reader’s understanding of character or setting. Make it fresh, drop it in strategically, and the flavor will be exquisite.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From Finance to Fiction

Writing a novel is more difficult than being a New York City banker. I know this first hand. For seven years, I worked in the corporate finance area of one of the largest banks in New York. As a young woman from Alabama, I ended up in the fast paced lane near Wall Street. I loved it there, and I loved the man I met there. We got married and our first daughter was born at Mount Sinai Hospital during one of the hottest summers New York City ever had.

We moved our young family to the Chicago area. My plans were to return part time to the world of finance, but this option was not available. I did some consulting work for the bank where I worked, but after the many bank mergers and another new baby, the door closed. So what to do next?

People always say that you will end up doing what you loved to do in third grade. Miss Cook, my third grade teacher at Brookwood Forest Elementary School pulled me aside when I was nine years old and told me, “One day you will write books.” I loved to write. In high school, I was on the newspaper staff and was even voted Most Creative in Writing during my senior year. (On a side note, it’s the same high school that Courteney Cox and Natalie Holloway attended). In college I was the editor for the editorial section of the paper. But the lure of international business enticed me to earn a master’s degree in international business at The University of South Carolina. I learned Portuguese and did an internship in the treasury department at IBM Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. Right after graduate school, I got a job in New York.

As an unemployed new mom in the Chicago suburbs, I applied for a free lance position at the local newspaper. Soon, I had my own neighborhood column. I heard about Write to Publish on a local radio station and attended my first writers’ conference. I met a wonderful acquisitions editor from Thomas Nelson and sold my first book – a gift book called A Mother’s Heart Knows. My entry into the publishing world officially began. In a separate blog, I will write about how I found my first literary agent. It was through a wrong phone number!

Five years ago, I discovered a passion to write a novel. It wasn’t an epiphany, just a subtle realization.

I was at a cooking class and thought that this would be the perfect setting for a novel. So it began….. And yes, five years later, I am still working on it (the cooking and the writing). It’s the most challenging yet invigorating endeavor I have ever undertaken. A love hate relationship. Conflict. All wonderful ingredients for a story and a blog. This blog will be like putting a meal in a slow cooker. I want to fill the posts with some bits of my life, encompassing finance, food, faith and of course fiction. Also, I want to hear from you. Please share your thoughts and recipes with me. Thank you, and let the journey begin!

Take-out Tidbits
1) For aspiring writers, sign up for a local writers’ conference. It’s a great way to dip your pen into the publishing world and meet with editors and learn more writing skills.

2) For aspiring cooks, remember to add fresh herbs to the pan last. If they’re added too soon, the herbs will lose flavor.

3) Collect your pennies that fall into the sofa cushions and under the car seats. Put the coins into a mason jar. Each month deposit it into a savings account for yourself or your kids. You’ll be amazed how quickly the account adds up!


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