Saturday, February 23, 2013

Where Oh Where Does My Story Go? ... The Journey of DYING TO DREAM

Manuscript is finished ... check. Edits, Revisions, More Edits, and Revisions ... check. Final read-through ... check. Now what?

Well, I had two options, both of which I'd taken before. If I chose option A -- query to agents, it will be a much longer road, much longer wait, but if it happened, I could get doors to open that would never be possible without an agent. Or option B -- submit the work to small, independent publishers who don't require an agent. Quicker, less fuss, but not the big payoff. Okay, so I'm not so patient any longer. Go with option B. Besides, I had accumulated a waaaay long list of indies to submit to. It would be a really long time before I'd run out of "doors to knock on".

I started with 4 or 5, one of which responded right away and asked for the full manuscript. Turns out this was to be a big delay in getting Dying to Dream published because this particular pub wants the suspense they accept to be big on romance. The good part is they were willing to work with me to get the story to the point where they'd like it and want to contract.

Two good things happened during this process. One, I did manage to add some romance. And two, I narrowed down the POV's to three, which I hadn't realized is such a very big deal :-). The downside was that there wasn't enough romance, and I wasn't willing to add more, so we parted ways after almost a YEAR! "Sigh"

Back to square one: This time, I submitted to five more pubs (that's a total of about 10 submissions -- really low number for me since the last work I'd written went out to probably about 50!) That was in the first week of August, 2012. Mainly Murder Press replied right away and said they'd get back to me after reading the sample chapters. Two weeks later, they asked for the full (8/22/12). By the end of August they offered me a contract. (WOW! That was fast.) But wait. I'm not through.

While I was taking time to read through the contract and deciding what to do, I received an email around the middle of September from yet another pub I'd queried, offering a contract. By this time, I'm thinking, what is going on and what a gem of a story I must have written! In the meantime, MMP is wanting an answer. I'm researching, even reading some of the books they've published and liking what I see. We go back and forth with me asking questions about certain things in the contract.

I finally make my decision and decide to go with MMP. It's a good fit. But the story doesn't end there. Geesh! A couple of days later, one of the other pubs asks to see the full manuscript. And a couple months later, yet another wanted to offer a contract! That's 3 out of 5 this time around who wanted to contract, and 1 that showed interest. The odds don't get better than that! And the expression, "you snooze, you lose" comes to mind :-) Sorry, you other guys. MMP caught the fish and I hope they are as happy as I am.

Now, of course, I can't help thinking, if I'd known what a great thing this novel of mine was, would I have gone the agent route and caught a bigger fish of my own? Well, I'll never know, and that's not how I'm gonna play this act in my life. No sir. I'm gonna drink the wine and enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Character in Characters ... Do Yours Have It?

I often think about this. I know I've written posts about it. I keep coming back to it, the topic of characters, because every so often situations will remind me of just how important characters are. Characters wear so many hats in the story. They are the navigators who mapquest the plot, screenwriters who create the dialogue, artists who paint each scene and overall, the entertainers who hold the readers' interest.

So, assuming you agree, how much time and care do you give in creating and developing your characters? Do you give them the attention you devote to other elements of your story? After all, the plot, no matter how much action, drama, or romance it might have, will be nothing if the characters are one big yawn. Let's face it. Stiff, unemotional dialog is a bore. Characters who do what's predictable are a bore. Not exactly a page turner. Right?

What to do ... I have thought about this a lot, practiced it plenty when writing my novels, and I'll try summing up what I've learned, what works for me, at least.

1) Map out the characters -- develop a list of traits for them, think about how they might react in various situations.

2) If you struggle with number 1, think of people you know, characters from tv shows, etc. and if one matches how you would like one of your particular characters to be, develop the traits and actions from that.

3) Give each character his or her unique way of talking or acting. Maybe some particular way of phrasing his/her words, some movement or gesture that's unique, a quirky look ... anything that makes the reader take notice and keep reading!

4) Get inside their heads! Be each of your characters as they take the stage and think how they would react, what would they do. By doing this, you keep the action genuine and believable.

5) Create pictures. If you are artistic, draw pictures of your characters. Or use photos you think match them. Then, keep notes about each one -- what they are like (see #1 info), what they do, etc.

These are just a few of the tricks I use. Maybe they will be useful to you. Maybe you have other ideas you could share and post here :-) In any case, enjoy writing! The pure pleasure of creating a story is what it's all about. So, enjoy!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Darn ... He Did It Again!

He always manages. Why would this one be any different? I am referring to Stephen King's recent work of art, 11/22/63, a close to 1,000 page fiction account centering around JFK's assassination. Of course, those of you who are familiar with King's work would know that this is by no means close to what one would predict such a story might be about. Au contraire, mes amis. King throws time travel, romance, a little touch of horror, and what would be expected, his usual crafty, humorous style that is so unique to KIng's writing into it.

I have to say the sheer versatility of his talent still mind-boggles me. An author who jumps from horror to writing touching stories like Stand by Me ... well, after all, it is Stephen King I'm talking about. Right? Okay, back to the JFK retelling. Most who have read this would probably say there is no way you could predict how it would end. In my mind, I decided there was only way it should end, but true enough, I really couldn't tell if it would go that way, even right up to the last few pages. Lots of twists and turns made for a true page-turner. And there's something about his style, the weaving of his words, the authentic references to the late fifties, early sixties from music to dance to everything, and the colorful, entertaining characters, the oddities like the Yellow Card Man, the endless details that seem to stoke the fire of curiosity, make you go on reading rather than bore you to tears, all of that makes me sigh and say, "um, ah, now there's a satisifying read!" Trite as it may be, I truly felt like I traveled back to Dallas and the early sixties. I was right there with Jake/George.

King sets the scene with the main character, Jake, aka George, who leads an unfullfilled and troubled life. It's no wonder he decides without too much hesitation to go on an adventure, taking him to another time and place. More than once, but always beginning in 1958. But the ultimate journey would take him across several years, all the way to 1963. And how can he refuse? After all, he will save the world, so to speak, become a hero, if all turns out as planned. What better quest than that. Right? But as they say, or as Stephen King says, the past is obdurate, stubborn and resistant to change. So, anything can happen ... and will. Just read it and see.

Worth the purchase and your time invested?  Yes. Most definitely. Of course, I was lucky to purchase this at $3.99 for the eBook. It's much more, now. And my thoughts on those priced at $9.99 and up, when you can purchase the trade PB or even HB for just a few dollars more, well, that's a whole other post topic!

Have a great day, and enjoy reading :-)                 11/22/63 by Stephen King