Friday, October 30, 2015

Theme: Love

I’ve had to tell people on a few occasions that my novel is not a romance. Not a big deal. There is no explicit anything to worry anyone. It’s all safely “cozy.”

But I do think about the theme of Love in terms of attraction between characters in a few situations.

For instance:

·       I explore how two people can know each—not like each other—but maybe become open to a change if the situation allows.

·       I’ve got a couple who, for the best of reasons, make some unconventional choices.

·       I’ve gone briefly into the past for another couple and tried to tie their romantic stories to the present.

Taken together, I’m hoping these subplots will combine to make things interesting.

Another reason to spend my time on romance—I’ve been thinking about family weddings. One occurred recently and the other will happen in the near future.

I saved a wonderful newspaper column by Dr. Wallace who wrote in response to a young person’s question about defining the word “love.”

Dr. Wallace quoted Haim Ginnott:

“Love is not just a feeling and passion. Love is a system of attitudes and a series of acts, which engender growth and enhance life for both lover and beloved.

“Romantic love is often blind: It acknowledges the strength but does not see the weakness in the beloved. In contrast, mature love accepts the strength without rejecting the weakness. In mature love, neither boy nor girl tries to exploit or possess the other. Each belongs to himself.

“Such love gives the freedom to unfold and to become one’s best self. Such love is also a commitment to stay in the relationship and attempt to work out difficulties, even in times of anger and agony.”

I saved this clipping for years. To its call for commitment and grace, I would add the following ingredients to a happy marriage:

·       A sense of humor
·       Extra patience
·       And a big dose of kindness

I find all these things to be useful and true on a daily basis

Friday, October 23, 2015

Going To Market

Book marketing workshop last Wednesday night at the Midwest Writing Center. Presented by Jodie Toohey author of Taming the Twisted.

Guest speaker was David W. Dorris author of Life Is Too Short: Life Is What We Make It.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Not About Jansson

A reader asked questions about Erik Jansson. She thought I should add more info about him. Background stuff I suppose. Place him in the context of my story a little better.

It took a couple of days of rumination but the answer is no, I only want the bare minimum of info about Jansson.

He’s important to the founding of Bishop Hill.
He’s important to, well, the mystery of my mystery.
He’s not what the book is about.

My book is about descendants of the original Colonists and the choices they have to make about staying in Bishop Hill, how they preserve what remains of the Colony, and how they relate to their heritage.

My book is not a history lesson. Others are far better qualified than I and have done excellent jobs of recording the real story of Jansson, the Swedish immigration, and Bishop Hill.

My work is fiction. I’ve used the few facts I know about Erik Jansson and Olof Krans fictitiously.

Specifically, I have created a coming-of-age story about one young descendant in particular. She is faced with a mystery about a Krans painting, which may or may not exist. She has obstacles, both personal and professional, to deal with. At age twenty-two, she’s a “new adult” who has to make some adult decisions.

So, I will reread my manuscript and see what I can do, but I don’t intend to put in any more info on Jansson than what suits my purpose.

I’ll acknowledge right now that it probably won’t be enough for some people. Great. Those who want to learn more, and I encourage learning more, are free to continue their journey to Bishop Hill, either by further reading or an actual visit. There’s a lot out there and many people who will help you along your way.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Farewell to the Queried Agent

Dear Queried Agent,

I sent you my query letter months ago. I know you’re busy. You get hundreds, thousands of queries every day. I get it. I knew getting any kind of response was bucking the odds. That’s why I was grateful for the one email I did get.

In 2013, the MWC had then agent Jen Karsbaek come to the David R. Collins Writers’ Conference. I paid $25 to have her hear my pitch. It was, like, my second pitch, so it wasn’t very smooth. However, it was enough for her to request 40 pages of my manuscript. Nice.

She responded in a timely fashion and offered some pertinent advice for a rewrite. Also nice.

I followed her advice—not in timely fashion—and when it came time to resubmit the pages I discovered she was no longer an agent.

Sad, but I followed directions and sent my pages along with an explanation to the recommended agent taking over her caseload.

No response.

In the meantime, I don’t have an agent, but I have found an interested publisher.

What to do?

Be proactive.

I checked out a library copy of How To Be Your Own Literary Agent by Richard Curtis. The info was old by 12 years and counting, but at this point any info was greatly appreciated. I made myself slog through to glean whatever crumbs I could.

On a more current front, through David Brin and Google+, I got handed a nice list of websites for authors. Many of those appear to be business oriented.

I’m not down and out.

I’ve got even more reading to do.

Here are 120 great websites for authors:

Friday, October 2, 2015

Something New

I’ve spent the last few days trying to learn something new; adding, as it were, to my punctuation skill set, the … ellipsis.
Defined in the OED as:
Ellipsis n. (pl. ellipses) the omission of words from speech or writing. A set of dots indicating such an omission.

It appears I’ve used this symbol a lot in my dialog. I wanted to indicate halting pauses … as well as omitted words. People talk like that … I know I do. I pause … because I’m trying to remember what point I was going to make. (I’d be more upset if this wasn’t already a lifelong trait.)

Like I said, I’ve liberally sprinkled … all through my manuscript. Some places more than others. When I started looking, I was surprised at how many times I slipped … in. (I took a few out.)

Spacing is important with….

In going through my words, I have to decide where to add a space, where to place a comma, a period, or question mark. (I don’t use many exclamation points.)

I’m still learning. I’m paying attention to what I’m reading to see how other writers and editors do it. I’ve come across many … and some…

It amazes me that there’s always some, new to me, little detail to learn.

I suppose it shouldn’t…, but it does.