Wednesday, June 4, 2014

IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING, HOW ARE GOING TO GET THERE?


In the midst of so many bad things happening around us today, it’s nice to have a place to go to escape into an author’s world, if only for a brief spell.

So my question is this?  Can a humorous contemporary romance author write some serious drama in a mystery? Yes, I can!

I know you’re going to laugh at this, but I actually began writing for therapy! Yep, that’s exactly what I did. When one of my friends read what I’d written, she wanted to know more and encouraged me to finish the story. And so it began. Two years later, I submitted my first manuscript to Avalon Books only because I was looking for a rejection so I could flaunt the title of PRO as a member of Romance Writers of America. Well, I got the title all right and a contract for Cupid’s Web! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Now eight years later and I have thirteen books published with the release of Deadly Obsessions.

 So how did I do it? There are no shortcuts. I studied every book I could get my hands on, took every workshop and even some college courses. When you want something badly enough, the only answer is doing the hard work to get there. In other words, there are no magic pills for achieving your goals. As much as I’d like to tell you to twitch your nose like a witch and pretend you have magic powers, it ain’t happening until you do the work.  But you know that. Your parents drummed that into your head from early childhood. It’s an inescapable fact.

 I wrote my first story as a panster.  That means: by the seat of my pants in author talk. Actually, the story came easy to me because it had been in my head for a long time. I knew the opening and the ending, and had absolutely no idea about the middle. Cupid’s Web is about a young woman who wants to establish her identity and begin to build a life for herself in New York, away from her well-meaning mother who believes all women should be married and having children. If you like chicklit, this is your kind of story.

 And then, I attempted my second book and thought I’d do it the same way. Unfortunately, or maybe I should say fortunately, I learned a valuable lesson.  I struggled.  When I complained to my engineer husband that the story wasn’t coming so easily, he asked to see my outline. Ha! What outline. Well, that mushroomed into a lecture on outlining. I made a feeble attempt at it, and showed him what I came up with. He just shook his head and insisted I needed to do more. I yes’d him to death and continued on my merry way until I found myself finishing one chapter and staring at the screen trying to figure out what I should put in the next. Ha! That’s when I decided hubby was right and I made a concerted effort to develop a map of my story. Now, I wouldn’t write a story without an outline. Think of it this way: if you're driving to a place you've never been to before, you need a map, right? Okay, so there's that GPS thing too, but work with me here, will you?

 The other thing outlining affords me on those days when I'd rather be outside doing something fun, is to know exactly where my story is headed. There's no struggling to come up with something. It's right there in front of me. It may be a very rough draft, but that's okay, it's still there in black and white.

 Okay, so now you've written your story. What's next?

 The first thing you need to understand is, as writers we face many challenges and the big ‘R’ for rejection is just a fact of our lives. Don’t let the fear of rejection steal your dream. Sometimes, if the publisher is nice, they’ll tell you what you did wrong instead of sending you the standard form rejection. So think of it as a learning curve. And let’s face it if you were starting a new job, it would take you a while before you knew what you were doing. 
 So, if this is your dream, you must do it. It’s all a learning process of finding what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes rejections have nothing to do with whether you’re a good writer or not. But I must admit, the first rejection is the hardest. At first, you’re insulted, then you’re sad, then anger sets in like rigor mortis. How dare they?? My best advice is to develop a thick skin, file the rejections in the round file, and move on.

 In the alternative, if you’re tired of the publisher rejections, why not try the self-publishing route? I have several author friends, and I myself have both traditionally and self-pubbed stories, many of whom are NY Times best selling authors. A friend of mine, Marie Force, is doing an amazing job with her self-pubs, and even bought a house with her profits. And, as a matter of fact, actually turned down a contract from a publisher because she was making more money from her self-pubbing. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Let me say that again, There is nothing wrong with self-publishing. 
 Just make sure you have someone edit your work before you post it. If you have a good story, regardless of who published it, readers will buy it. I honestly do not believe readers’ check to see who the publisher is before they’ll buy it? I’d be shocked to find out otherwise. What they want is a good, well-written story that entertains and offers them an escape. That’s all it takes.


So, now we come full circle and I ask you again. Can a humorous contemporary romance author write some serious drama in a mystery? You bet I can! To check out excerpts of all of my books, visit my website.