Slow and steady wins the race…
I decided to write a little bit about my writing journey today seeing as I am enjoying the status of becoming a new Harlequin Superromance author. My first novel with them will be available January 2013, yay!
To say I am happy would be a gargantuan understatement!
The thing is, this success did not happen overnight by any means and no matter what happens with regards to my future career, I will always shout the benefits and advantages of the quality small presses out there. For me, they are worth writing for and they are worth learning from.
Too many aspiring writers view small press as a last resort. They write their stories and then submit to every agent going, every big publisher that takes unsolicited submissions, every mid-list publisher until they say, “Fine, small press it is then.”
Then wonder why they get rejected from them too.
For me, writing is a craft – a huge robust learning curve that you have to open your mind and heart to if you stand any chance of making it. Reputable small presses are run by people who love books, love writers and especially love readers. They want to deliver good quality stories that will appeal to their genre readers and more than that, they want them to come back for more.
So why would they accept a story that you tossed at them as a last resort? They won’t. They know they deserve more respect than that.
I started writing short stories about ten years ago and gradually moved on to longer and longer novels, until I found my happy place at around 85-90,000 words. I went from being multi-published with the likes of The Wild Rose Press and Lyrical Press to my position now of being a Harlequin Superromance writer, hoping to secure a series of books. Yet, I will endeavor to write novellas for the people who molded my success as often as humanly possible. Why? Because I won’t forget the people who believed in me from the start.
You can do this too – if you believe in yourself and are willing to soak up as much knowledge and experience as possible. The editors I have worked with have taught me SO much and I know I wouldn’t be anywhere near the writer I am today without them.
Embrace small press – I do!
Rachel’s latest release is a “Love’s Debt” a Victorian romance novella, available Sept 5th from The Wild Rose Press.
Love’s Debt by Rachel Brimble
To keep herself from the depths of poverty, Milly Shepherd needs to be appointed manager of the Red Lion Tavern. The elderly owner is in failing health and has promised her the job permanently if no one more suitable applies. Milly will fight with her entire being to make the job her own.
Joseph Jacobs needs to supplement his income to pay off his father’s creditors and save him from debtor’s prison. Though the job as manager of the local tavern looks promising, Milly is favored by both the owner and customers. Instead, Joseph swallows his pride and agrees to tend bar.
As they work together, their attraction grows, their goals cross, and both Millie and Joseph find they must face their fears …the question is whether they face them alone or together?
“No, I take it from here.” His jaw tightened. “I mean it, Milly. I don’t want you in there.”
“Why are we arguing about this? I thought we’d built a trust between us.”
His gaze darted over her face, lingered at her lips. “This has nothing to do with trust.”
“Pride. If I haven’t got that…if I’ve stooped so low as to put a woman at risk, then there’s no point in going on at all. I won’t do it, Milly. I won’t expose you to whatever is behind that door. If you can’t stay here, then go back to the tavern. I’ll see you there shortly.”
His face was set, his shoulders stiff and Milly’s irritation grew. She poked a finger into his chest. It was like iron. She swallowed. “Have you heard the saying, pride before a fall?” He nodded. “Good, because if people don’t reach out to other people, Joseph Jacobs, they fall further than ever with nobody there to catch them.”
She raised her hand. “Go. Do what you want. I’ve got more important things to worry about that a man full of so much pride, he looks fit to burst.”
Turning, Milly gripped her bag tightly in her hand and strode away. She did not look back, and she didn’t stop walking. Her stupid heart had let her down. Made her get involved in a man’s life and begin to care about him. Well, the buck stopped there. No more. If Joseph Jacobs ever needed her help again, he could take a long walk off the dock.
HUGE HUGE Thanks to Rachel, a most wonderful woman, writer and friend. She’s an inspiration to me and I couldn’t possibly agree more than I do with this beautifully articulated post. Small presses are amazing gifts and opportunities for a new author. I sing the praises of mine long and often Thank you Rachel for sharing with us today. Congratulations on your new and upcoming titles. I cannot wait to read them!
I write. A lot. The word Obsessive has been thrown around once or twice in my presence – behind my back as well, I’m certain. OCD. Cray-cray. Julie. I’m okay with that.
But, I learn stuff. Like, this new something sinking into my brain lately. It seems to me each new manuscript unfolds differently in my life. I love them all the same, but every main character, every plot, every world seems to come at its own pace. The pace is a bit reflective of the story also (utter side note – disregard) in my experience. I think this is a brilliant self-discovery. LOL *Nerd alert* You know what they say. “Once a psych major, always a psych major.” What? People say that. All right, I made it up. Go with it.
Anyway. I was disappointed as I muddled through the first 10K of my new WIP. Coming off a full-speed-ahead YA where words flew through my mind faster than I could get them on paper, where I ran through dozens of notecards and notebooks aligning all the fantastic juicy details, the new WIP is more like watching grass grow. A little yawny at times. (The process not the story I hope. Yikes). The YA was an obsession. I couldn’t turn it off. This new WIP? Very very different. This is a sweet romance. I love writing these, but I’m targeting a specific line this time and struggling to make the words heavy with story, but light with attitude. This experience is like lifting weights. Slow and steady. One workout at a time. Snore. Beg. Stare. Tap on screen. Moment of brilliance. Silence. Repeat.
I realized today this is more typical than I’ve realized before. These two stories are so opposite that the process was like a flashing neon light this time and I finally noticed. Each story has it’s own lifeforce. Some need told desperately and don’t care if they bleed out of my face so long as they’re heard. RIGHT NOW. Other stories, like my current WIP, are slower. They want to be savored, unfurled slowly and absorbed. These characters have lots of time and lots of turmoil. Each one needs explored and I haven’t found a fast way to do that, so I linger in this world longer. And that’s okay.
Nnow that the proverbial light has flickered on in my cob-webby head, I’m willing to go with this. It’s a slower roll. Okay. I can do that. Slow and steady…something about a race…hey, I didn’t say the light was a spotlight or anything.
Conclusion: Don’t draw an invisible shape in the air and try to shove every story you write through it. Characters could lose limbs that way and no one wants that.
Confessions of An Angry Girl by Louise Rozett
Releasing August 28, 2012 from Harlequin Teen
Freshman Rose Zarelli has rage issues. First of all, her father lost his job, took work as a contractor in Iraq…and never came home. Second, she likes the wrong guy and his super-intense, scary cheerleader girlfriend is now her nemesis. Third, her fashionista best friend, Tracy, is suddenly infinitely cooler than she is–and talking about losing her virginity. (What?!)Rose is ahead when it comes to studying for the PSAT, but she’s so far behind socially that she might as well be moving backward. She needs Tracy’s help choosing the right clothes, she likes all the wrong extracurricular activities, and she can’t even make a decision about which photo of her father to put on the memorial website she’s making (and hiding from her adolescent-shrink mother). With her brother away at college and her mother always locked in her office with her messed-up teen patients, Rose struggles to get through each day without inflicting bodily harm on anyone.
Confessions of an Angry Girls was captivating. The heroine was fourteen, a bit younger than I normally read, but her voice was so powerful I needed to know what would become of her. Rosie has lost everyone all at aonce and just in time for her first day of high school. Talk about a nightmare and a half. Her father was killed while working as a contractor in Iraq. Her mother retreated in her grief under the guise of letting Rose deal her own way, and her brother left for college. The family is a mess. Everyone hurts. Rosie’s left to muddle through, making sense of very little and in full survival mode. Understandably, she’s angry. In general. Life is sucktastic time a zillion.
We learn quickly that Rose is tough. She manages high school, bullies, a crush she shouldn’t have and friends who take other paths. Keep in mind her brother’s gone, her dad’s dead, the town treats her like she’s broken and her mom is MIA. She keep moving forward. I loved Rose’s sass and perseverance. She’s a survivor, smart, rooted and would make her father proud.
Rozett has a completely unique voice. I read tons of YA, but this was different, the world was gritty and felt dangerous somehow. Despite her mother’s profession as a therapist (obviously they weren’t destitute) the kids were raw. The slice of humanity we see come from all avenues. Not everyone has enough to eat or family to live with. In this, Rose’s blessed. Meanwhile, others have more than than everyone else. Another detail that added to the realism for me. No one lives in a bubble surrounded by like people. Rozett shows this. The relationships in COAAG bled on the page. She packed a punch with every single character. They all hurt in their own ways and my heart broke repeatedly, not just for Rose’s family but for others with love not returned, those unable to see where they were headed. The whole book was fun and hard. Not an easy combination to pull off. Rozett did it well. I will definitely be in line to read the sequel. I feel invested in her characters. I want to know they’ll be okay. This author is one to watch out for.
News writing for Fictionistas
by Dana Sitar
Everyone loses readers to distractions, boredom, low attention spans, time constraints, obligations — any number of things that have nothing to do with your writing talent. So, what if your reader puts down your book in the middle of the introduction and never gets a chance to fall in love with your main character? How do you get her to remember you — and possibly come back?
News reporters pioneered the solution to this problem ages ago, and fiction writers can follow in their footsteps to craft solid, concise stories. If you’re worried that your first paragraph or first pages aren’t capturing your readers’ attention, try the “inverted pyramid” method of story-writing.
What is the inverted pyramid?
A style that addresses the issue of limited space in a printed paper and the tenuous connection of a telegraph machine, the inverted pyramid can also be a creative way for you craft compelling stories that keep your readers interested.
The pyramid is a visual used to demonstrate leading with the most important information of a story, with other details following in order of diminishing importance. As the image shows, this style of writing is top-heavy. You open with the meat: the most vital of the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of your story. Craft a lead sentence that draws readers in with an understanding of exactly why they’re reading.
How to use the inverted pyramid for fiction
Rather than carry on for pages with a vague description of the location and elusive pronouns to describe a faceless main character in hopes that the reader wants to keep reading to learn more, just give it to them! Give readers what they need to know early on: Where does the POV come from? Who are the main characters, and why are they in this setting? What’s the setting?
Unlike in journalism, you don’t necessarily want to craft your fiction to allow for readers to stop reading the story. Although the inverted pyramid lets you do that, it can also be a way to get your readers invested in the story. If they know the characters they’re dealing with and what major issue they’re facing, readers just might be interested in continuing. If you parse details out too slowly, you risk losing a reader’s interest, driving them to leave the story before they even know what it’s about.
Here are three simple steps to crafting a story using the inverted pyramid method:
1. Answer the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of your story
2. Rank the information gathered from those questions in order of most important (6) through least (1).
3. Write a story that shares the information in descending order of the rank (6, 5…1)
Caution: This is NOT a back-story dump!
Although you want to give useful information early, this style of story-writing is not an excuse to overwhelm your readers with trifling details from the get-go. When you read a news piece, you don’t get a subject’s full history up front, but you still understand the story. You’re given the characters, the setting, and — most importantly — the ACTION right away, and smaller details are left for later or not included at all.
Can we try an experiment?
Here’s your homework! (Don’t worry, I won’t be checking; you’re responsible for yourself here.) Write a piece of Friday Flash this week using the inverted pyramid method. Imagine that you’ve got only three minutes with the most important person you know, and you have to tell your most interesting life story. What are the vital details, and how do you use them to capture his attention?
If you’re feeling bold, publish your story and share a link in the comments!
Thanks for having me, Julie I look forward to what you all create.
Thank you Dana! I love this post and am so thankful you stopped over to share it. I love the inverted pyramid concept, and I plan to work with it in my new WIP. I’m in the planning/plotting phases, so the timing is *perfect*. Can’t wait to get started!
About the Author
Dana Sitar is a freelance journalist and indie author. She shares writing tips and anecdotes for dreamers in search of a path through her blog and DIY Writing Newsletter.
**Inverted pyramid image credit: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_pyramid)
Find Dana online:
Covet by Melissa Darnell
Dangerous to be together. Painful to be apart.
Savannah Colbert knows she broke up with Tristan Coleman for the right reasons. Most of all, to keep from killing him with her new vampire abilities. But try telling her heart. Now, lost in a sea of hostile Clann faces, Sav tries to come to terms with what she’s becoming and what that means for her future. And that someone is doing their best to bully her into making a terrible mistake.
Tristan can’t believe Sav won’t even talk to him. If being apart is her decision, fine. Just don’t expect him to honor it. But even as he prepares to fight for the girl he loves, forces beyond their control take them both in directions neither could have foreseen or prepared for.
A reckoning is coming…and not everyone will survive.
Thoughts by Julie
Covet is book two in The Clann series by Melissa Darnell. I loved the first book, Crave. I wasn’t disappointed with Covet. Darnell has a unique ability to draw her reader into her world. Though it’s been some time since I finished Crave, I fell right in step with Covet. Her imagery is fantastic. Her characters are so real, it’s easy to forget they’re imaginary. Their struggles are heartbreaking and their love is toe curling.
In Crave, Savannah struggles to deal with her changing body, mind and life. She suffers loss and heartbreak. But she’s never weak. Always determined, she’s strong in the face of bullies, enemies and fear. I love this. Who hasn’t felt surrounded? Sav gets in there and resolves to stay her path. She’s amazing. Her true love, Tristan, is as endearing and lovable as ever. Despite the huge amount of time passing after their break up, he doesn’t give up on them, doesn’t rebel against her, doesn’t lash out. He believes in them and that unwavering passion is inspiring to a romantic like me.
It was fun to see the transformation of Sav. In the first book, Tristan protects her many times, emotionally and physically. In this book, Sav’s strong enough for herself and for him. She’s inspiring. Filled with girl-power. And speaking of girl power, her friend Anne steps up her game in this sequel. She’s more than a quick wit after all. Just as I suspected/hoped. Everyone needs a friend like her. Another reason I gave Crave 5 stars, Darnell expands the cast a bit, delving into who they are, enriching the story and creating endless possible story lines – which has me drooling already for the third installment of this series. This was an overwhelming, page turning ride. My emotions ran the gamut and I am hooked on The Clann Series.
Despite the fact this is another YA with vampires, the story is fresh, fun and powerful. I’m so glad I gave Crave a chance. It became one of my favorites in 2011 and Covet is one of those in 2012. It’s not about the vampires. It’s about the people, the tension, the choices. Beautifully done. I would recommend this to any YA reader. Fabulous read. Amazing ending. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Finally, I want to thank Harlequin and NetGalley for making this title available to readers, early and at no cost. If you aren’t familiar with Net Galley, please check it out. It’s a wonderful resource for readers and authors alike. *Thank you*