Tag Archives: grace is enough

Learning Curves

After nine years, you’d think I’d finally know what it takes to write commercial fiction an editor can’t pass on.
Actually the nine years is a little misleading. I got my Master’s Degree in there. Spent a couple years playing around. But I’ve studied the craft consistently in that time and I’ve written a dozen books, most of which garnered requests…and then rejections.
But here I am, nine years later, revamping the way I write.
I should be looking at this skeptically. But I’m not.
I’ve decided I’ve got a huge learning curve. It’s taken me nine years to figure out the perfect writing plan to finally make the sale. And I think this book is big enough in idea and execution to be the one that garners the call.
But I’ve got to get it written and that hasn’t been entirely easy. I love the plot, and since it’s suspense, I had the plot pretty much worked out. I knew the red herrings. I knew the major twists and turns. But I was having a horrible time getting the words on paper.
Until I read Julie Leto’s layering article.
Suddenly the book’s taken off.
It’s going to take a lot of clean up, but that’s okay. I can do clean up with the best of them. My goal is to have the first draft written by Friday. That’s pushing, especially with a double deadline, but I think it can be done.
My characters sure hope so. I just shifted into the high tension action packed build up to the black moment. I love this part of writing! Torture is so much fun.

Oh boy

I entered my newly completed women’s fiction in a contest today. I’ve entered a few contests in the past. A couple times I’ve even finalled. Usually I get a mix of high scores and low scores and have to get a discrepancy judge. Once I finalled in one contest and got a HORRIBLE score in another contest with the same manuscript.
So why am I doing this?
I had to really ask myself this before I ever did it. The answer: If it finals, it gets in front of a mainstream fiction editor. Without an agent. And that would make me happy.
I’m also interested in how this story plays somewhere other than Wichita Falls. So I took the chance, paid the $35 and entered a contest. We’ll see what happens.

While I was at that I lost my synopsis for my Intrigue wanna be I sent in June. I have no idea where the synopsis is. It’s not on my backup. It’s not on my hard drive. It’s like I titled it Identity Crisis and it decided to disappear. That stinks! It probably needed to be re-written anyway, so I guess now’s as good a time as any.

Which is fine really, because I’ve had a synopsis epiphany.
Actually, calling it epiphany is a stretch. I’m sure I’ve seen this a million a twelve times since 1997. But today, August 2, 2005, I finally got it.
The synopsis is a guide for me. BUT it’s really to show how commercial my book is. It’s to show an editor that I understand as a new author there has to be something to make readers BUY my book.
Good news: I can do that.
Bad news: Using that as my guide, my synopsises (Is that even a word?!) stink. UGH.
Good news: I can fix that.


I’ve completed my first big book. It’s so long! I still can’t believe I finished. I rewrite the end a few times and I’m still going to re-work some scenes in the last 70 pages, make sure they stretch the tension, but the story is done and I love it. Hopefully it’s lucky number 13. 🙂 With this book, I’ve completed 13. I have two partials for Intrigue, but I’m not moving forward with those until I have requests. I felt that since this was a whole new ball game, I needed to finish it. And I’m glad I did. I learned a lot about me, but I also learned a lot about writing and characterization and the flow of a book. With my series stuff, the novel focuses on the hero and heroine and the romance. With this, there were so many other threads that had to be completed. It was challenging and fun and exhausting but definitely worth it.

Oh the Joy!

I’m almost done and I love my book. It’s so sad and happy and reaffirming. I nearly killed it with that race to the end, but after a brief bout with WIP CPR, it’s been revived.
Woo Hoo.
I’ll finish it tomorrow or maybe the next day. And then I have to get started on the next one because it’s about to write itself I think. My brain won’t turn it off, and it has to, at least until I finish this one.
I’m bittersweet about this first foray into the Single Title market coming to an end. I’ve stretched myself and learned to write with more emotion but less exposition. The characters tell their stories. I’m just sort of along for the ride. 🙂 I think this book has helped me become a better writer, a better storyteller. Before this, I’ve been so in love with my words, I forgot that in genre fiction show don’t tell is essential. That even if it sounds beautiful, it’s not going to be read if it’s similar to Faulkner in sentence length. This story is longer than anything I’ve written before because of its subject matter and its characters. But I fully believe writing this has made me a better writer, period. I know my new Intrigue proposal is tighter because of it.

Still haven’t heard from Intrigue, but my next proposal for them is ready. YES! I understand the idea behind one proposal on the desk at a time, and I even agree with it. But man, it’s hard to keep this at home when it’s ready to go.

People keep telling me I should focus my energy on one kind of story. I don’t think it’s possible. One day an agent or editor might tell me this, and I might have to give it more thought. But right now, I don’t see the need. These ST’s are gut-wrenching to write. Crying at the computer might be cathartic at times, but it’s also exhausting. I need the shorter, faster, sexier stories for author escapism. I hope that doesn’t mean I’m unprofessional. I don’t think it does.

I hope to have a fabulous writing week next week. I should, since I won’t be at Nationals. I love conference, but I’ve given it up until I sell some books or final in the Golden Heart. Hopefully I’ll be in Atlanta. That’s my goal anyway.

**Reading Lolita in Tehran is an amazing book. I’m so glad I picked it up. This summer’s been great for my Keeper Shelf.


Tales of the incredible day of avoidance. Part 1

Once upon a time there was this writer. She was a very determined writer. Or so she said. To everybody. All the time.
This determined writer woke early one bright shiny morning with a vision. A complete day of nothing but the written word.
A nutritious breakfast of Whole Wheat waffles and yogurt later, she sat at her trusty iBook, powered on, opened her WIP and her e-mail.
One hour later she powered off and went for a walk to clear her mind.
Now, determined writer realized she’d written nary a word on her WIP, but, she told herself, there’s still a whole bright shiny day ahead.
The nap at 1, wasn’t that big of a deal. She still had half a bright, shiny day ahead.
The half hour watching The Real World wasn’t that big of a deal, she still had a few hours left.
The thirty minutes spent grilling fish and whipping up a scrumptious low-fat yogurt and Splenda topping for the berries she’d bought, no biggie.
The twenty minutes plucking her eyebrows when she’d never, ever in her entire life plucked her eyebrows….okay, that was big deal. Not only do her eyes feel like they’ve taken a short one-way trip to hell, the entire day is gone and she’s still written nary a word.

Avoidance Part 2
I’ve written. In 15 pages I’ve solved the world’s problems, everyone loves everyone and all is safe.
Unfortunately it’s 50 pages too soon for all these nice-nice feelings.
I’ve committed the nice-nice sin. And it’s crazy really because I don’t know how I got here. I mean I do. Obviously I just jumped right from all hope is lost to, well, isn’t that nice. Too bad, so sad. Straight to HEA. Which means I left out a huge chunk of my story, and that’s the first time I’ve done that writing this book, so it’s driving me crazy.
I know why this happened. It was the eyebrow thing. Or maybe it was the blueberry coffee. How can I write angst while drinking this stuff? It tastes like summer. And summer is not angsty. I need angst.
(Tiny, itty bitty good news: I only have 50 pages to go!!!! But I’ve got to quit thinking like that. It’s how I ended up in this situation!)


I started my new Intrigue proposal tonight. I just decided to go with what I felt like working on, and since I have no contracts, I have that luxury. I can’t wait for that to change. 🙂
I’m over the half way point on my WF and I have the next one plotted. This Intrigue kept popping around in my brain, so I figured get it on paper while it’s there.
And now it’s 1 a.m. and I feel guilty for not working on the 1/2 done women’s fiction—which is crazy!
The Intrigue was fun. It’s suspenseful and sexy and the hero is yummy. It was nice to take a break from all that angst in Prodigal and focus on Missing. My conspiracy theory brain needed an outlet.
I’m just glad I have the time to write.
I’ll be teaching Thursday and Friday, so I’ll only get to work at night, which I seem to do anyway. I just needed a schedule. Hopefully I can keep this up once school starts. Writing the synopsis first helps a ton! Hard to believe I wrote those words. A few months ago, I thought writing a synopsis first completely shut me down. Now I use it as a road map, but that’s all. And sometimes maps are wrong, but that’s okay because if the map is there, you can just take another route to get where you’re going.

The Problem with new WIPS

Last night I wrote until 2. I liked what I’d written, but I didn’t love it. The characters were there, but no voice.
So I jotted down some notes, told myself it had to be bigger and went to bed.
And that’s when the characters started talking to me. Not just one but the whole freakin’ cast.
I know better than to tell them to shut up. Do that and they just might hold it against you the next day. So I got up, wrote the scene, went to bed. I still wasn’t happy. Something was off.
And then the voices started talking again.
And I could see the problem, or at least one of them.
So I got up, whipped out my moleskin notebook and wrote what the characters were telling me. It had to do with story order and voice and word choice and when I was done, I had an outline of the beginning. An outline I LOVE that has amazing voice and a unique energy. I told my CP’s think Steel Magnolias meets Ya-Ya Sisterhood meets the chapters of Luke where Jesus is telling the parables.
So finally the voices quit messing with my brain. And at 4 this morning I finally got to sleep.
Which was okay because we went to church yesterday so I could sleep in.
Only dh woke up at 7, flippped on the TV and started talking.

The Next

I love the fact that my daughter’s old enough to listen to my story ideas and say,
Uh Mom, that’s not going to work OR
Uh Mom, can we say cliché? OR
Uh Mom, if people think you’re writing about me I’m gonna be ticked..
(Why would she think that? So what that my new story has a teenager who changes her hair color every week of the summer because she’s bored and her mom told her she had to do something other than sit on the computer or watch movies all summer?) But hey, on the bright side she thinks other people are going to be reading this story, which mans she thinks it’s going to be published, which means I haven’t totally wrecked her belief in dreams even though I’ve been rejected a million times since she was five. That’s gotta be a good thing. 🙂
The best part about it was she pushed me to look for something new and now I have a basic plot structure and my new characters for my next womens fiction. Woo Hoo!
She even thought it sounded good. (Other than the teenager)
I’m trying to figure out exactly what it is I’m writing. I know, that’s a strange thing to say, but it’s true.
It’s definitely Christian because the themes running though it deal with belief, redemption, forgiveness.
But then there’s the whole self-discovery character arc that runs through all womens fiction.
The books are older–married, starting to see those lines, battling the bulge and gray hair, oh-my-God I’m middle aged.
They definitely have romance throughlines.
And they’re real, meaning they don’t strictly follow CBA standards. They feel passion, the cuss when things go wrong. But I doubt they’ll be dropping the F bomb. Actually they might, but it wouldn’t be spelled out. I’ve decided not to worry about it. These people are completely real in my mind and I think they’re completely real on paper. I love them. I live them while I’m writing. I’m letting them tell their stories and it is awesome.
I love summers!

Exhausting, Exciting, Woo Hoo!

I’ve come to the realization that Christian Womens Fiction is a huge, diverse market. And every editor acquiring it includes agented material only. So I’ve started my agent search because this book is awesome and it deserves a home. 🙂
I don’t usually think of my books in terms like awesome, but this book keeps making me cry. One minute I’m Mary Beth Lee, romance author and the next I’m one of my characters or all of them. I feel their pain and God, it HURTS but it’s also an amazing experience. I know this is what Shirley McClane (sp?) goes through with her out of body experience. It has to be. Only mine are better because they’re not in REAL bodies. (EWWWWW!)

Agent proposals are more difficult than writing. One page queries that include why you’re a good bet plus a brief overview of your book. Two pages queries that do the same thing. Full proposals. All with SASE included. E-mail. Snail mail. It’s a jungle out there.
But I’m making my way through that jungle. I was up til 2:30 this morning; I just couldn’t stop working, and then I got up at 6:15 and finished getting everything together. As of noon I have my first agent proposals out the door. I have no idea what will happen. But I know I’ve given it my best. And I’ve been to the post office twice this week,so I’m on the right track. 🙂

I’m taking a break this afternoon. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are calling my name. I hope the movie is as good as the previews. Hot, hot, hot!
Just gotta love it. 🙂

Writing Frenzy

I LOVE my new book. Love it, love it, love it. And the best thing is since it’s summer, I get to write a ton! Woo Hoo!
This is so much fun.