Category Archives: writing

What To Do When All Else Fails? Succeed!

Most of my LCRW friends know how hard I’ve struggled to become a published author. I made it through all the hoops…went to writer’s conferences, had my work critiqued by professionals in the biz and by my peers, pursued agents and managed to hook one with a strong reputation, grabbed the interest of editors from “big” publishing houses. And then…things went downhill from there and my books never got published.

What went wrong? I ask myself that countless times. Was it bad timing? A difficult marketplace? Editors busy looking for that “best seller” and not seeing that possibility in my work?

In the end, I have no answers. But if there is anything we writers do in this business…it’s persevere. Because the truth is, the first person that needs to believe in me is…well…ME. And I do. I have to admit, every step up the mountain of success has surprised me. I dream big, but wait for that familiar moment of disappointment. That step onto crumbly stone that sends me going backwards instead of forwards. The climb is difficult. Painful. But the view every time I look back? Beautiful.

My next step, which feels like a step back but is really a huge leap forward, is to self-publish my book SEVEN LITTLE SECRETS. It’s a young adult novel about a high school cheerleading squad and the co-captain who takes her own life. I wrote it many years ago, and it had some close calls with publishers, but ended up a no-go. But with 13 REASONS WHY making headlines these days, this is a great time to market it (thanks, Lisa Scott, for pointing that out for me). So I intend to do so. And do it well. Because in the end, I haven’t failed. I’m just doing it different than how I envisioned ten years ago. I’m using different strategies, finding a way around rushing rivers and mudslides. But still moving forward.

That alone, makes me a success.

 

 

 

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Inspired by life with enhancement and modification to increase interest.

Jean Verno asked me to post this for her.

 

Inspired by life with enhancement and modification to increase interest.

By Jean Verno

 

Where do I get ideas? The most common and least complete answer is “from life”.

My stories begin with an image usually sparked by a something, song or an overheard conversation, a person or action that catches my eye.  A unique location or photo will give me a feeling that something interesting happened here, and I am drawn into spinning what fantastic event it would have been

Sometimes I will see a person in a public place and wonder how they got there or into that circumstance and before you know it, I have made up an impossible story. I never know where my imagination will go but the characters end up quite different than the original.

Give me a title and I’ll make up a story but if I have a story first, I struggle to find a title.

A story is told about the writer* who left journalism to become a novelist. When asked why he chose to leave a successful career for the unpredictable life of fiction he gave this answer.  “I was covering a major fire, it lasted all night and tragically lives were lost. I realized then that what I wanted to do was to write the story with a more satisfying outcome.” He went on to write very successful novels in which, ironically, many lives are lost.

In fiction, we can make things come out the way we want them too, mostly. Sometimes your characters just insist on following their own paths. Still, it is the author who decides which way the story ends.

Once I get these flashes of imagination I am usually sort of left hanging and then the work begins. It is like turning on the stove with a vague idea of cooking something. Now you have to assemble ingredients, decide what to add where, and how much. Should you chop or slice the onions or just use the dried flakes? How long should you cook it so that it is done perfectly, not raw and not overcooked? How should you serve it to best enhance the whole meal? And a big question, how do you let the world know that your wonderful creation is there and ready for them to consume with pleasure? And, hopefully look forward to more.

Getting ideas for stories is the easy part. It is the developing, plotting, refining, editing, adding, removing reediting, and on and on, that is the real work. That is the crafting; that is what leaves blood on the keyboards.

Life, after all is what you make of it but most people don’t make stories, poems or books. It is only those of us who believe that we can improve on the common experience by twisting it and twirling it and coloring it to our fancy that do.

*If you want to know who, email me. I couldn’t find the original source so I didn’t use his name.

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