Thursday, April 2, 2009

And the Countdown Begins...

Twenty-seven days until the release of RESCUE ME! It seems like I've been waiting for this day forever.

Starting with today's post up to the release date, APRIL 28, I'm going to share bits and pieces of my writing life. I'll try to post every day, but don't hold me to it. If I get excited about a story idea, I may forget to post. But, for right now, that's my plan.

Here's the start:

I always think of my writing career as a journey. I've seen peaks and valleys, traversed over rough terrain, dodged and fell into plenty of potholes and thankfully experienced the occasional level and smooth road. Fortunately I've had wonderful mentors and friends who have taken the journey with me and made it not only bearable but incredibly enriching. I've learned so much in the seven years I've been writing. And still have so much more to learn. But even as I consider my career a journey, each book I've written has had it's own journey too. And of all the books I've written, RESCUE ME probably has the longest one.

Here's the beginning journey for RESCUE ME:

I started writing the story in the summer of 2006. I had gotten some disappointing scores in a contest and some even more disappointing rejections of what I considered my best work to date, a contemporary semi-romantic suspense called GOLDEN GIRL. Yeah, I know it doesn't sound very suspenseful, does it? But I loved it and believed in it. Others didn't. So I came to a place in my writing journey where I began to question not only what kind of story I should write, but should I be writing in the first place.

For weeks I didn't write as I considered what I should do. Then, because I've learned that even when a writer doesn't write, stories continue in their head, I began to think of a story line. It was about a naive young woman who makes an incredibly bad decision and ends up paying a terrible price for her mistake. I started writing it, having no idea where I was going. Two chapters into the story, I stopped. Why? Well, because the author writing this story wasn't the same person who'd written the previous stories. The voice, complexity, seriousness and direction were completely different. And I have to be honest with you, it scared me. So what did I do? I put it away, of course. I had no idea where this new, darker voice was coming from and really didn't know if I wanted to continue.

For months, I didn't write but couldn't stop thinking about that story. Then, in January 2007, I took two online classes that changed my writing life. One was taught by the wonderful author and teacher, Laurie Schnebly Campbell, and it was about putting the joy back into your writing. It helped me to explore something I had forgotten, which was: why did I want to write in the first place?

The other online class was taught by the amazing Candace Havens and it was entitled Dream Big. It helped me to see that not only was my dream still there, it was evolving, gaining solidity and substance.

Both of those classes made me realize something monumental. In the three books I'd written before, my main focus had been on what I thought a publisher might buy. Oh, I knew I should write what I would enjoy reading, but that had never been my primary goal when writing. I realized that previously I wanted to sell a book more than I wanted to tell a story. And it showed in my work.

So after I made this amazing discovery, I signed up for another of Candace Havens' classes, Fast Draft. I took the chapters I had written the year before and in two weeks, wrote RESCUE ME. I was most definitely inspired and motivated. I wrote this book for the sheer joy and exhilaration of telling a story. Selling it didn't enter my mind. Of course, that changed after I finished it.

And in writing about this young girl who'd made this terrible mistake, I found not only my voice, but the story took on a completely different slant. The Last Chance Rescue organization she worked for became a character on its own. And then the founder of that organization came into my head. From there, all sorts of story lines and ideas began to fly.

Tune in tomorrow (hopefully) and I'll tell you how I met my amazing agent and what happened after that...


Carla Swafford said...

I'm counting now the days too. Can't wait!

Carla Swafford said...

Down not now. Geez! I'm getting terrible. LOL!