Well, I finally “finished” Part Two of The Winds of Glenhoolie. “Finished,” I say with a wink and a nod, knowing that a book is never really finished until it’s on sale.
Now comes the hard part – accepting feedback from my editor and beta readers about this modern romance an an ancient Scottish castle. It isn’t that their comments are harsh, it’s just that the plot works so perfectly in my own mind that I hate to think everything may not be so clear-cut in someone else’s mind. Ah, well, that’s the life of a writer. And that’s certainly what the polishing stage is for. Best to get critiques early, before the book comes out, when plot holes and typos can be fixed.
I plan to share more about The Winds of Glenhoolie: Part Two as time goes on. As I do, I expect to ask your advice on key points. I hope you’ll respond.
In the meantime, sign up for my newsletter by clicking here: http://eepurl.com/bGj3Vv
A few weeks ago I blogged about the importance of writing what you love. Since then I’ve been talking with other writers about why we write at all.
Some of these folks are best-selling authors in their genres like Jami Davenport (sports romance) and Anthea Lawson (historical romance, often with a musical bent). Others have several books under their belts but haven’t hit the best-seller lists yet.
Their answers were revealing. Sabrina York, best-selling author of “steamy, snarky romance” confesses she has a host of characters clamoring to be heard. Once she writes their stories, they leave her alone to go about her business…at least till they demand a sequel.
Others say they write to exorcise problems. By transforming problematic people or situations in characters or situations in books and working to understand their motivations, authors do gain some insights into the drivers of real people.
Some write for diversion. (That’s me, among others.) I’ll never live in a castle, so I let Claire in “The Winds of Glenhoolie” and its as-yet-untitled sequel live in one. It’s draftier that she likes, by the way. I enjoyed travelling in Scotland, so some of my books are set there. That lets me explore the country again and again.
I just finished drafting the sequel to “The Winds of Glenhoolie.” I’ve reread and tweaked and finally sent it off to my number one beta reader for additional comments and suggestions. If the review and editing process stays on schedule, I expect to release the sequel later this year.
In the 1947 Oscar-nominated movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, the young widow Mrs. Muir became a best-seller with precious little effort.
The ghost, a deceased sea captain, dictates his tales of a seaman’s life in vivid detail. Mrs. Muir merely had to take it to a publisher and convince him to read it. Naturally, it was a page-turner that became a huge success and solved her most pressing problems. I’m happy for her. Really, I am.
That’s a lovely fiction, but the reality is that best-selling novelists expend tremendous effort bringing their books to readers’ attention. The days of the all-powerful New York publisher have waned.
Instead, authors are expected to market their books themselves, with a little help from the publisher. Some even expect marketing plans to be submitted shortly after the manuscript. Mrs. Muir had it easy!
In the 1947 movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a ghostly sea captain dictates his sea-going adventures to a young widow who just bought his house. When he finally ends his tale of adventure, she puts down her pen and takes the manuscript to a publisher. It becomes a best-seller that provides ample income for the rest of her long life.
Writing isn’t like that.
Writing the novel is just the start. When you finish your first manuscript there is an overwhelming urge to send it to a publisher or agent immediately. Resist that temptation. Put it away. Forget about it. Do something else. After some time has passed, pull it out and read it critically. You’ll undoubtedly find situations or comments that no longer make sense, details – including names – that changed and a host of other details that need improvement. Editing takes time and a careful eye. Laurie will talk about editing, in more detail.
When you think it’s ready, send it to some friends to review. AND exchange critiques with other authors. Listen to their advice and decide what makes sense. Different people look at different things. Some look at structure and grammar. Others look at plot, while others will focus on the architectural details of your settings.
Those extra eyes on your manuscript may sometimes be painful, but the pain is temporary and worth it if it helps you craft a better story.