Saturday, January 21, 2017

Starting the First Novel

I have always read fiction, visiting the local library frequently when young, and then buying romance novels at my job at age 15 in a drugstore in my hometown. The store had a soda bar where employees could pretty much help themselves, and a book rack I loved to explore. I discovered the library didn't have some of the books sold on those racks. After about two weeks of ice cream, malts, and sodas,  I no longer liked ice cream, but the book rack always drew me.

Have you ever noticed how some genre stories are told and retold endlessly? I've read where there are only seven plot lines. This I think, is debatable because so much else comes into play in a story, but still, I think every reader has come across remarkably similar stories.

That started happening to me when I lived in Colorado Springs for a year. My husband got a job offer in St. Louis, but the kids were in the Colorado Springs school system, and we had a lease on a house. I remained in Colorado. I couldn’t find a book whose plot wasn’t a rehash of something I'd already read. Some publishers seem to specialize in this effort, even the titles being somewhat repetitious such as the Millionaire's Bride or whatever (now the billionaire's). To fill my time I started writing my own romance story. I worked on it every night after the kids were in bed. Finally the next summer we moved to the St. Louis area.

The novel I was working on stalled as I found a full-time job. I remember the characters, Gina and Wade, and the start of the plotline, but have long since lost the actual story. Looking back, I know this was a ‘hidden’ baby book plot, i.e. mom has baby father doesn’t know about for this or that reason. That was okay as I had started another story, this time in another genre I loved, scifi and fantasy. Actually, I’ve since decided all fiction is fantasy. I’ve said this before. It’s all about how reality dresses up the story.

At that time I mostly wrote for my own entertainment. Finally, I finished one and sent the manuscript to a publisher with great expectations. I never realized how awful it was until I received the first rejection. Not the plot, but the actual writing. This came with a reread of what I had sent in. Certainly it was a reality check. The characters lacked dimension, and needless wordiness invaded the paragraphs. Suddenly I became aware of the importance of editing.

I refreshed my grammar skills (admittedly spelling is still a problemprobably a genetic thing) and read several books on writing. Then I rewrote that rejected book which soon became three stories. I'm not saying the original writing was horrible, awful, terrible as I had a very good high school that emphasized English, and I wrote many papers in college that earned good grades. Fiction, however, is different. In some ways, it takes more thinking as the writer’s goal is to grab and hold the reader's imagination. Even in basically unbelievable scenarios (some real-life situations share this characteristic), the writer needs to fulfill the reader's need to believe these scenarios are possible and real. Writers do that by allowing the reader to share the characters' emotions and reactions.

Writing a novel is a long and difficult project. Which is why everyone thinks they want to write a book, but few complete one. Even then, once the actual story is complete, the herculean task of finding a publisher looms.

Please visit the blogs listed below to see more opinions on writing that first novel and how it was accomplished.

Skye Taylor
Margaret Fieland
Heather Haven
Dr. Bob Rich
Connie Vines
Victoria Chatham
Helena Fairfax
Beverley Bateman
Marci Baun 
Judith Copek

Rachael Kosinsk
Diane Bator
A.J. Maguire 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Color of the Day Jan 1

For Christmas, I received a calendar with each day covered in a different Pantone color. If you are unfamiliar with Pantone, they have broken every color, shade, intensity down into a code of the colors in making it: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key or black. Originally used in printing colors, Pantone now has matching colors and fashion colors. 

So yesterday, January 1, the calendar color looked like this:

The color will change from machine to device showing it, but it is an intense red, more on the orange side of the spectrum. However, at first, I wondered about the calendar maker choosing this particular color. Then it came to me. If I had been out drinking New Year's Eve, I might well have woke up seeing this color or having others seeing it in my bloodshot eyes. 

Curious, I looked the color up at Pantone: C0 M87 Y62 K0. I wanted to change it to an RBG color model for this post. It didn't exist on the Pantone page, but I noticed Pantone even has a color of the year. The color for 2017 is 'greenery.'  Today, January 2, on my calendar is olive green and it's code colors don't match anything on the Pantone chart either. However, the color does somehow seem appropriate for a Monday after the first day of the year.

Getting back to yesterday's red swatch. While I did have two glasses of champagne, one with our lobster dinner (the cooked lobsters also being close to this color) and one later, I found the day's color had a lined note area on the back and suddenly it was the exact color I was feeling but not in the hung-over state of the color.

It was exactly how I felt: angry, fearful, upset, and worried—with the state of the world, with last year's lengthy and ugly election buildup and the results, with the failure of the majority of the human population to grasp how we are destroying the Earth, our only home, and most of it due to overpopulation and greed, which is seldom mentioned in any media we listen to or read, with the number of people living in abject poverty, and with the human propensity to be cruel to animals. And yes, while I enjoyed the lobster, I also felt guilty overeating it.