Barbara Meyers Career Update 8/26/10

I’m afraid outlining an update will take a long time, but I’ll try.

Non-writers think that if you haven’t had anything published in awhile you must not be writing.  Not True!  If I’m not working at Starbucks, I write all the time.  Even if it isn’t actual creation of a new work, I’m doing research, or I’m reading through what I’ve written for the twelfth time trying to find the flaws, or I’m thinking about a particular story, plot, scene, character.  If you’re not a writer, you have no idea how much of writing fiction is thinking.

I’ve been writing all along, I just haven’t interested an editor one hundred percent in what I’ve written. 

My latest romance A Forever Kind of Guy, the second in a possible trilogy of sorts which started with A Month From Miami was with my editor for eight months before I heard back about it.  And when I did, the answer was, she was interested but it needed more work, so if I wanted to revise it based on her suggestions and re-submit it, I was welcome to do so.

This is discouraging, but not earth-shattering and I believe I have an excellent editor and like my mother, she’s right 99.9% of the time.  But it took me much longer than I thought it would to come up with ways to change it and make myself happy with it.  She’s had the revised version for several weeks and I’m not holding my breath waiting for her to get back to me.  Nor do I sit around on my hands and do nothing.  I’ve always got more than one project I’m working on.

One of the things I did after I revised AFKOG was send it to a couple of people on the Novelists, Inc. critique loop to get a cold read.  (This is one of the many benefits of belonging to a group like this—I can get a cold impartial read and feedback from other writers.)  One multi-published author blasted me after reading a hundred pages.  “Your characters have no goals.  There is no point in reading further.” 

This was news to me.  Of course my characters have goals.  But it forced me to take a hard look at what I’d written and revise yet again.  More than anything, I think non-writers don’t realize how time-consuming writing fiction can be.  People ask me all the time how long it takes me to write a book.  It’s a question I can’t answer.  I write, I rewrite, I revise, I get feedback, I revise again.  Maybe I should just say, “It takes a long time” and be done with it.  I’m a slow writer, apparently, and I just found out that’s not good if you’re published by an e-book company.  Oh, well.  I yam what I yam.

So once I shipped AFKOG off, I went back to the first book in my contemporary fantasy (potential) series, Grinding Reality.  My character needed a more concrete goal.  (I’ve discovered this is what’s wrong with my many unsold manuscripts—a lack of clearly defined goals for the main characters.  Who knew?)  The goal is actually there in all of them, but it isn’t well-defined or crystal clear.  That’s the part that needs work.

If you’re a writer reading this and wondering what’s wrong with your work or why it doesn’t sell, ask yourself what your main character(s) primary goal is.  If you can’t answer that, you’ve got a problem.  Giving the character a clearly defined goal will also make your book longer.  Think goal, motivation, conflict.

I started working on Grinding Reality two years ago.  It’s sort of bizarre and funny based on my experiences working at Starbucks for the past seven years.  My main character, Tee, accidentally swallows an addictive coffee bean which causes her to temporarily inhabit the bodies of other entities.  In those forms she sees and hears things she otherwise wouldn’t and is compelled to act on that knowledge.   She’s after a suspicious group of Eastern European thugs who’ve set up shop in the sleepy resort town and whom she believes are involved in human trafficking among other things.

An editor did express interest but didn’t think she had the leeway to take on such a quirky project.  Translation:  If you had a better track record as a published, selling author, I’d take that chance.

In between these two active works in progress, I’ve looked at another manuscript I wrote awhile ago.  It’s sort of a suspenseful romance (although I’ve been told it can’t be a romance because the heroine is married and the hero is not her husband).  My massage therapist’s husband is a homicide detective and she offered his services to read it and give me feedback on the murder that takes place.  That was immensely helpful.

Another aside to fiction writers, think about who you know or who the people you know are connected to when you need to do research and ask them for help when you need it.  Most people are flattered and interested to help a writer with information within their area of expertise.

I’ve looked at/read through another manuscript I started a few years ago, a romance about a couple who meet up after ten years at their high school reunion.  He wants revenge.  She wants to make amends.

I’ve also written 160 pages for the third in the possible trilogy which began with AMFM, but sadly, I don’t exactly know what the goals are for those characters, so I’ve shelved it for awhile.  But during the latest revisions for AFKOG, I got an idea for yet another connected book.  Did you know if there are four, it’s called a tetralogy?  Both of those ideas sprang from characters in AFKOG.

You can see why it’s pointless to offer your ideas to a fiction writer.  They’ve already got more ideas than they know what to do with or time to develop.

So…today is the day I set as a deadline to finish reading through the final draft of Grinding Reality, Book One:  The Forbidden Bean.  I’ve got fifty pages to read and the day off to do it.  And then I’ve got a couple of places to send it and see what happens.

Just because you don’t see a fourth book out there with my name on it (yet) doesn’t mean I’m resting on my laurels.  What are laurels, anyway?  And why would I rest on them?  Dictionary time…honor or distinction gained by outstanding achievement …to rest on one’s laurels…To be content with what one has already achieved or accomplished. 

As if.