Sunday, October 28, 2018

Crossing The Finish Line

It's taken me five months and an equal amount of beta readers, but I think I'm finally there. My WIP, Remembering Iris, is polished up and ready for viewing by my agent. I wrote the first draft, edited it using Margie Lawson's techniques, added in the senses where they were missing, made sure there was enough conflict, dumped it into a word program, read through it, ran it through my editing software, let five people read and comment on it (Thank you all, BTW. It was a real help.) Then I read it again. And again.

I finished the final read-through this week. The fingers off the keyboard read-through (well, almost, anyway.) I'm ready to send it off and begin the next story. And therein lies the dilemma. What to do next? Shall I write Gaston's story? He's been nagging me for years now. Or Anjanette's? She unexpectedly wouldn't leave the pages in the work I just finished. How about Lily? All I have for that one is a wealth of information on building mazes from boxwoods, a kilt and a broadsword. The rest of what I'd written has been scuttled. What do do? Which way to turn?

I'm headed for the hills this weekend, where I will discuss my Lily plot with someone who's got a good grasp of puzzles. Perhaps by the time the weekend is over, I'll know which way to turn. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018


The air's a bit crisper. The scent of pine and wood smoke is in the air. Fall has always been my favorite time of year, and now, in a new state, it's become even more so. The sights and smells are somehow stronger, or maybe I just imagine so since they're not a harbinger of four months of ice and snow that's just around the corner in Ohio.

I'm taking next weekend to become one of the "leaf-lookers" I used to complain about when I had my cabin in West Virginia. That's right. I'm heading out to the NC mountains to observe the leaves changing colors. I've heard the spectacle is not as awesome this year as in years past–a combination of an excess of rain mixed with high winds from the two hurricanes that barreled through the state. We'll see.

In any event, it will be good to take a step away from my WIP, which I've been refining for the past two weeks. And, it will be good to step away from my side hustle job, which hasn't given me anything good to write about in over a week. I need a break and there's nothing finer than spending a weekend hiking in the mountains, hearing the rustle of the leaves, hoping for a bear sighting, or at least a deer or two. It will be a great way to reset my creative clock. A visit to the Biltmore will keep me in the historical era mind set and a few nights breathing in the autumn air on the deck will be a balm to my soul.

Can't wait.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Beta Readers

When I began my writing journey, I belonged to several critique groups, moving on when I outgrew them. Eventually I began to rely on two people to read my stuff, and two more author friends to bounce ideas off of. That method seemed to work for a while, but it's now time to take things to the next level. And to do that, I need beta readers.

To those of you not familiar with the term, here's the definition according to Wikipedia.

A beta reader is a test reader of an unreleased work of literature or other writing, who gives feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author. A beta reader is not a professional, so that the opinion of an average reader can be heard. Usually, a beta reader will be unpaid.

For my latest endeavor, I used five beta readers, three of which were authors who also are readers of the romance genre. I just got back the final one, and was kind of surprised and pleased that the problems they noted were eerily similar. Timeline issues, scenes that drug along, scenes that didn't advance the plot, or the reader didn't buy the concept of the scene. The reason I'm pleased with the outcome is because that means I only need to concentrate on a few passages to straighten things out. One of the beta readers is known for her steamy sex scenes so she mentioned I few improvements I could make there. Another writes really good action scenes, so she helped me with that portion of the story. 

They say writing is a lonely job but it take a village to bring a manuscript from the typed page to a complete novel. In this case, it hasn't taken a village but a complete city. I greatly appreciate the hard work and hope the final product is better than anything I've written so far. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Starting Over?

I put the finishing touches on my second book in my Regency series with a few questions in my own mind, which were confirmed by my agent. I didn't like the fact I had painted my hero as an alcoholic, even though I've had a lot of experience with such men and seen more than one give up the bottle when a good woman enters the picture.

I also didn't like that I made him a fugitive from justice, and had to stay in England against his wishes. That was too much the same plot point as I had in the first book in this series. To say I finished it while in the midst of chaos is an understatement. So when my agent bounced it back to me with the request for a total rewrite, I didn't object, but didn't know which way to turn.

Should I rewrite it, pulling out the problematic parts and put the puzzle pieces back together, knowing they won't all fit? Or should I toss out all those words which I pounded out over several chaotic months, rethink the whole idea and start over? Should I go back to square one and think about the seven basic plot points?

Number One. The Back Story haunts the central character.
Number Two. The Catalyst gets the character moving. It’s part of the story’s setup.
Number Three. The Big Event changes the character’s life.  
Number Four. The Midpoint is the point of no return or a moment of deep motivation.
Number Five. The Crisis is the low point, or an event that forces the key decision that leads to your story’s end.
Number Six. The Climax or Showdown is the final face-off between your central character and the opposition.
Number Seven. The Realization occurs when your character and/or the audience sees that the character has changed or has realized something.

Right now, the only thing I like about this book is the blue and green tartan my hero proudly wears.

I'll let you know which way I go with this. But regardless of which way the wind blows, it will blow a blue and green tartan plaid.