Saturday, April 27, 2013

Reworking a set-aside novel

Last June, I finished a second draft of my third novel, When Your Mother Doesn't. I proofread it and then sent it out to several trusted early readers. The story concerns three women, a mother and two daughters, who are getting together for the first time in 24 years.Weaving together by means of this reunion, I tell the stories of each of them and how they came to be who they are in relationship to each other.

I had tried something experimental in the first daughter's story by using reverse chronology, and while the general comments about the book were very favorable, only one person liked the experiment. The other four readers felt confused by it or had to keep looking back at what was happening to keep things straight. Not good news for me.

I'm currently on a writing retreat at the Oregon Coast and one of my tasks was to reread Frankie's story and see how I could resolve this issue. I decided to scrap the experiment and go with a more straightforward telling of the story. That required quite a few changes and I also decided to simplify Frankie's life. I'd written the other two stories first and felt a need to make Frankie's story as complex and dramatic as her sister's and her mother's, but I realized today that that was both unnecessary and inauthentic, for part of Frankie's story is that it isn't all that dramatic. My challenge is to make it compelling in its ordinariness. I'm not sure I've succeeded in that yet but I think I'm closer.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The wheels of traditional publishing grind exceeding slow!

In early February I signed a contract with Skyhorse Publishing for my second novel, Fog of Dead Souls. Since the odds of getting a traditional publisher these days are about a thousand to one, I felt very lucky. And I'm very glad I did as this is the easiest way to widespread sales although there is no guarantee that that will happen.

But I'm learning how slow this old process is. It's been two and a half months and the advance check has just finally arrived at my agent's. It now has to clear the bank and then they send me the money minus 15%.

My book is scheduled to be published in February 2014, basically a year from signing. Of course it is fiction and not a time-sensitive subject so there is no hurry, but when I finished my Sober Play book in late December, I had it proofread, designed, uploaded, and copies in my hand in less than 3 weeks. I am mindful though that I had only one book to get done and they have a rotating list of quite a few happening. I'm just one of the authors they publish for. But it is a curious and interesting process.