Ready or not, here she comes! Grab your coffee, pull up a chair, and please give Jaclyn a warm welcome. Oh and... you better grab a pillow. The belly laughs this woman gets will require padding your gut:)
Dayana, first off~ hi and thank you for inviting me to your blog for a second time. This is a nice comfy place to hang my Yankee hat. I’d like to share with you what not to do when writing your first novel. My first novel is a testament to this from the first time I said aloud I was going to write a book and then get it published. The journey’s been a long one, but worth every second.
Day 1 of 4 years, (“Ahhh!” Your screaming, “No, get the hook!” Relax, I’m not planning on giving you a blow-by-blow of the last whatever 365 days times 4 years equals) I can’t remember yesterday let alone 4 years ago, but some things stick with you like a bad case poison ivy. This one especially:
End of Sept 2004. The Yankees lost their place in the World Series and all things in my universe seized to exist. Left with nothing but the reality shows and junk on TV, I picked up my first book and read it cover to cover in about 8 hours. It was Laurell K Hamilton’s. I was hooked. From there I read 1 to 2 books a week until the light bulb went on and I said to myself, “If the Sox can win a series, I can so do this.” So Jan 1st, 2005 recouping from the previous night’s festivities and with a large mug of tea I sat in front of my husband’s computer and with one finger tapped out my first 3 pages of Eden’s Black Rose. 9 hours later, I emerged triumphant and headed back for the wine to celebrate. Live and learn. I’ve yet to get that part right!
Jan 1st 2006, literally one year to the day I claimed I had written the next great American novel. Again, a little naivety keeps your hopes high. Sitting in my shoes at this point I didn’t even know what the word genre meant—swear to God. Prior to this I’d failed every English class I’d ever slept through.
The book came in at 1,200 pages. Ok, so I never once checked for any guidelines. Rule #1, always do this before you spend the next 2 years trying to get someone to take you seriously so you don’t have to spend countless hours switching up your baby, your blood, sweat and tears.
The little quirks a computer has is nothing compared to the major spasms I had when the computer burps at me or just went blank and I lost all my days work. Learned the hard way to back up everything. Being absolutely illiterate on a comp and slower than a snail typing my heart attacked me more than once.
So, now that the MS is done and printed out, all 1,200 pages, I wanted to find someone to edit it and do the whole grammar thing for me, cross my ‘T’s, dot my eyes, just kidding, ‘I’s and fix all my blunders so it’s polished and ready to go to print right away…
This is where I lost an entire year with this book. I gave it to a friend of a friend who said she’s do this for boucoup bucks.
Panic attack came after I saw the price tag, but being of the invertebrate family I never opened my mouth and for 11 months said a silent mantra that this woman would take my first born as payment. It’s not that she didn’t want my daughter. She said she couldn’t afford her either. So, we ate hotdogs for quite some time and in the end, she told me I should cut the book in half and make it into 2. Blood roiling we parted our separate ways. I packed up my half of a tree and shipped her off to some publisher with my synopsis and query, 2 more words I learned the hard way about, and I said my prayers. One week later my box sat on my steps with a small handwritten note on top. The note said, “Get a Etymology book and a writer’s guide.”
Ok, set back more $$$, I went through the ms umpteen more times and corrected all my stuff I paid the editor to do. Confidence built, March, 07 the book journeyed to the Wild Rose Press. It was well received by an editor who’s no longer with the company. Again, it was highly suggested I cut the book in half and this time I did. I resubmitted a few months later and she said she loved the story and she’d go through it. I waited 9 months without a word. And I sure as hell didn’t bother anyone coz if you’ve ever read those writer’s guides they all tell you in bold print, “Don’t hassle the editor or it’s an automatic rejection.” So I didn’t and in my spare time I wrote the new beginning to my 2nd half of my book and my 3rd book. Once again, I heard from the editor, elated she hadn’t forgotten me after such a long time, until she asked for the book back because it was lost in cyberspace. If anyone has knowledge of where my heart fragmented to I’d appreciate it. Again, I resubmitted and waited…
In or around May, 08 I received a e-mail from my savior, Callie Lynn, who asked what was going with my book. I told her I was wondering the same thing. Anyway, one thing led to another and my book is great hands. All good things in time, right?
So, what have we learned?
1~ Stay awake through English class.
2~ Don’t skip out on typing classes because you don’t want to cut your nails off (yeah, I flunked that class too.)
3~ Learn all you can about the field you’re entering so you’ll be taken serious.
4~ Be polite and patient… to a point. Give an editor their space and then if you haven’t heard from them send a nice follow-up letter. I am too nice and there is a doormat on my back because of it.
5~ Read and follow all the guidelines suggested when you’re ready to let your baby out into the hungry world of agents and editors. I can still feel my heart thumping after I left the post office for the 1st time. What if’s clobbered me. I’ve gotten somewhat better. There’s work to be done on that note.
6~ Don’t give your last earned cent to a stranger to edit your book. Pick some poor slob in your circle of family and friends and hound the hell out of them for help. Bribe them with whatever it takes, just don’t pay for it. A true friend will tell you what’s wrong or great about your work and you have to listen.
7~ Have faith in your editor. I do.
8~ Don’t get discouraged when rejection letters find your doorstep. If you love your book, someone else will to.
9~ Back up your work regularly. Otherwise you’ll be sorry.
10~And my final advise, PROOFREAD! It definitely helps when you’re sober and wide awake. Speaking from a hypothetical position of course.
Hope this helped someone out there.
Now for a snippet of Eden's Black Rose, soon to be released over a The Wild Rose Press.
He gave her a brilliant grin, one she wanted to knock off his face if she could just get free. He proceeded to toss her flat on her back and cover her with his two hundred-forty pounds of dead weight.
“I don’t want to hurt you, Lucian,” she warned. Lucian’s mirth only enraged her more. “I mean it. Let me go.” Serina began to cry. “Please, I don’t want you…” She never got the chance to finish her sentence, like this, drunk.
Lucian covered her mouth with his hand. “Shush! You don’t mean that.” About to cover her lips with his, Lucian stopped and studied her two heads and four wild, ferocious eyes. “I would never hurt you. I just want to kiss you. Trust me… that’s all that could happen right now. I only want to tell you I am sorry I left you last night. I wanted you to want me for me. Pity was plastered all over your pretty little face.”
Serina pushed at his chest, grunting. “Please get off me? I can’t breathe.” She lied through clenched teeth.
“Not so fast.” He dipped his head towards her, testing the waters. If she truly didn’t want him, he’d know soon enough, when she clobbered him. “Serina?” From behind sealed eyes, tiny water droplets ran off her cheeks. Drops he’d caused. “I’m going to kiss you, just once, and then I’m pretty certain I’m going to pass out.”
“As you wish, M’lord.” Serina was finished fighting both him and her head. Her heart would win this round. Being stubborn was one thing. Being stupid was not an option. When his lips covered hers all her anger, self-doubt and lack of self-esteem disappeared. He moved her to unchartered territories. She’d never lay beneath a man before, and she found this divine until his tongue dragged across her cheek and left behind a slippery cold trail. Then his head bumped into hers, and she heard him snoring—that fast.
“Oh bloody hell. He’s got me pinned beneath him. This is not happening.” Serina took in slow, deliberate breaths of air. With only her fingertips free to move, she twirled them in an upward motion and envisioned a gentle wind to lift and carry Lucian to the other side of her bed. Short of breath and anxious, she spit out, “Any day now!”
Lucian’s snoring intensified, sounding like tiger purring in her ear.
Swearing and thoroughly upset because nothing happened she tried a second time. “Winds of change, pick up your pace. Place Lucian St. James into outer space.”
Everything happened so fast Serina didn’t have time to react. She blinked and Lucian spun horizontally above her, in a cyclic fashion. First, his head whipped past her, then his feet, then his head again, and he kept going like her victrola at nauseating speed.
Fully awake, he screamed for his life, “M’lady, I beg of you, stop this,” as he grasped at air.
“There’s a slight problem, Lucian,” Serina yelled, “I’ve never done this incantation before. They rarely work as they should. Case and point, of course, being you.” She tried to duck seeing him coming directly towards her.
Lucian latched onto Serina as he circled. Now they were both caught in the windstorm within her bedroom. Lucian’s feet slammed into Serina’s coat-rack. Splintered. Serina’s nightdress caught her oil lamp and tore it from the dresser. There would be no more flicker from the shattered rubble.
“You have to stop this,” he screamed petrified.
Without giving it another thought Serina spit out, “The eye of the storm, a twist of fate, land us inside my garden gate.”
Inside one second, outside the next, and falling fast towards thousands of thorns and roses. “Hammock,” Serina bellowed a split second before they ruined her precious flowers. Never mind looking like a pincushion, the flowers came first. Serina had her priorities.
Serina shoved back her hair from her eyes and caught her breath. “Wow! I’ve never done anything quite like this before. What do you think, Lucian?” Serina asked exhilarated. “Lucian?” She tapped his cheek.
Lucian attempted to focus.
“I can explain,” she said. “You’re not hurt, right?”
Lucian stared in disbelief. He did however, find he fancied the position in which they landed. Serina was buried under him for a second time this morning with her legs spread to both sides of him, and her nightdress scrunched beneath her hips.
“Do you want me to tell you what happened?”
“Serina, after the past two days there’s nothing—absolutely nothing you could say that would surprise me. The cat’s out of the bag. I tried with the ignorance card pretending not to notice a few things, like the way Raven miraculously stopped bleeding last night or this feeling I can’t shake that you were—are still inside of me. And the funny thing—I’m quite sober now, thank you. I can’t even blame this on the wine or the whiskey or the scotch I got into last night thinking my sister attempted suicide after we were both attacked by vampires. This little excursion through the air was fun. We’ll have to get a magic carpet the next time though. Duncan told me I should, by all rights, be popping up daisies, yet here I lay! Not that I mind this position.” Serina opened her mouth to speak, but he placed his fingers to her lips. “Just tell me I haven’t lost my mind. We’ll go slow. I’ll swallow one dose of your reality at a time, Dr. Spencer. Fair enough?”
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