Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Having submitted my MS to the publisher I met at the New Jersey Romance Writers’ conference in October 2008, I was thrilled to hear in early January that they really, really like it. Yes, she said really twice. (Watch out, there’s a ‘but’ coming.) BUT, they want me to make changes and resubmit before they can offer me a contract. My initial ecstasy at the “really, really” was immediately tempered by the editor’s requested revisions. She asked me to write a prologue and work on some POV and showing vs. telling issues. Interestingly, her suggestion for a prologue, a bit of back story illustrating the heroine’s motivation, was something I had previously considered and rejected. A while back I had actually written the same scene but felt it didn’t work and filed it away. When I dug it out and reread it, I realized it sucked, but was able to salvage a line or two. Lesson: never delete something you’re written, no matter how bad; you never know when you may be able to recycle. The POV and showing/telling problems are more complicated. I am very attached to my words and find the rewriting process tedious and quite frankly, painful. I have to drag my body over to the computer when I get home from my full-time day job (you know, the one that pays the rent), after I’ve finished procrastinating by watching up to two hours of TV. (Local, national and international news, plus a news magazine – hey, everything is a potential source of inspiration for the next novel and one has to know what’s going on in the world, right?) Other excellent sources of procrastination (in case you need a few suggestions): cleaning out that closet you haven’t gotten to in the last three years, calling that elderly aunt whom you can’t stand but really do owe a call, organizing the photos from last year’s vacation, arranging the earrings in your jewelry box in color and size order, plus any number of other essential tasks that just can’t wait another second! Now that I’ve finally made it to my desk, I draw a long sigh and get to work. I had decided to go through the MS page by page, hunting for the dreaded head-hopping and ‘too much telling’ sections. So far, I’ve gotten about two-thirds of the way through the first phase: fixing POV issues. Along the way, I’ve stuck ‘Post-It Notes’ in all the spots that I may have to go back to for showing/telling revision. I’m averaging about one ‘Post-It’ every ten pages or so. That means by the time I’m finished with Phase One, there will probably be about thirty ‘Post-Its’, many requiring a major rewrite. Oh joy! The angel on one shoulder tells me to keep plugging along. The finished product will be better than I’d ever imagined and I can look forward to that glorious day when I will see my book in print with a fabulous cover. The little guy hanging out on the other shoulder keeps saying, “That editor doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about; your words are fine the way they are! And don’t you have another closet to clean out?” Well, it’s time for me to stop procrastinating (oh yes, I forgot, blogging is another wonderful way to avoid the MS waiting patiently on my desk) and listen to that angel. Now, whom have you been listening to lately? The angel or the other fellow?
Posted by Lisbeth Eng at 2:59 PM
Friday, February 13, 2009
Happy Valentine’s Day! What more perfect day to launch the official blog of the Romance Writers of America New York City chapter? On this day filled with love, virtually brimming with romance -- Welcome from we few, we happy few – we band of romance writers in the Big Apple! It occurs to me that St. Valentine may seem a likely candidate as a patron saint for romance writers, given the holiday named in his honor. Alas, he has long been the patron saint of lovers (and ain't that a tough gig what with speed dating, starter marriages and The Bachelorette, Season 6). Besides, it is a sad and gruesome tale, certainly not one with the happily ever after (or happy for now) that we romance authors so delight in. Valentinus the man was a Roman priest, originally imprisoned for marrying Christian couples. The Emperor Claudius, in fact, took a liking to the priest but, sadly, Valentinus could not deny his faith and when he attempted to convert the Emperor, he was condemned to death. Beaten, stoned, and ultimately decapitated, Valentinus’ reincarnation as St. Valentine, namesake of the current holiday, did not occur for centuries. Now however, despite his grisly fate, he rules over the day when lovers embrace their passion and the world celebrates romance. If not St. Valentine, then who (I asked myself)? Who could represent our group of intrepid writing professionals? After all, it is the rare group that cannot claim its own patron saint. St. Francis is the patron saint of ecologists. Single women have St. Agatha. In fact, lovers need so much guidance they actually have two patron saints, the second being St. Dwynwen. Even lost causes, and lost things have their own guardians, Saint Jude and Saint Anthony, respectively. The arts have St. Cecilia, who is given a hefty load, as patron saint of music, composers, singers, musicians, poets and organ builders (what about piano makers, accordianistas, tuba tuners? But I digress...). Poets are, admittedly, writers, but I had hoped to find a saint specific to writers. To be frank, writers of popular genre fiction. I did discover Saint Francis de Sales. The patron saint of journalists and writers, he was beatified after spending his life in literary attempts to stem the growth of Calvinism. His most notable work, A Treatise on the Love of God, is still known today. Despite his influential tome, was I satisfied with this august personage as a romance writer’s guardian? Well, honestly, not so much. Besides, as creators of fiction that bring the world the joy of true love, as authors who share dreams of romance, I yearned for a candidate who embodied love and creativity. Yet, with our members' diverse spiritual paths, perhaps a guiding force less ecumenical. Rather like a secular patron saint; a non-denominational muse. A Ha! A patron muse! Eureka, I cried! (and imagine my fellow commuters’ reaction to that!) The perfect solution – a patron muse for romance writers. Someone who shares our taste for star-crossed lovers, be they human or fairy, Christian or Pagan. A fellow scribe who likewise understands the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that a writer’s ego is ere to. A fellow (or madam) who pens witty tales of love’s labours lost, and love regained, or of ghostly apparitions, witches foul and fair, fairy queens and foolish mortals. Stories of something wicked that may come, of plots laid and inductions dangerous, or midsummer nights’ dreams of love. Anecdotes of royal heroes advancing, once more unto the breach, of merry wives capering nimbly, and of Danish princes and Scottish kings. Not to mention ladies in waiting and waiting ladies! One who could be a mentor; a model of the art of writing fiction, of how to create our stories, measure for measure, as we strive to achieve that tale of perfect love, the story of fated romance where all’s well that ends well. O, for a patron muse of fire! Egads! Forsooth! Methinks I’ve hit upon the quintessential fellow! But soft! (Wait for it....) William Shakespeare, Patron Muse of Romance Writers. Doth it not have a rather nice ring to it? What better choice (says she)? His works and his words have led many a romance author on a merry chase for the perfect hero and heroine who best all conspiracies of fates or their fellow man, always to succeed in their search for happiness. (And who, pray tell, is the author of the golden rule of romance writing - "The course of love never did run smooth!" (i.e., CONFLICT! CONFLICT!) Who gave us that original couple who slung the mud before succumbing to the lure of their love/lust? None other than Petruchio and his Kate! Whose protean villains – from the bloodthirsty MacBeth to the sinister Iago – have endowed us, as authors, with the perfect model for our own evil doers, be they Regency or redneck? With noble and naughty sensibilities, he populates the world of fiction with the greatest characters ever known. We borrow liberally from his works to enhance our own, for in many cases, only the words of the master will do. From his poems to his prose, he inspires and instructs. I ask you, my friends, lend me your ears - er, your eyes. Who better to lead the intrepid romance author into the fray that is the creation of the perfect love story? So there you have my candidate, and my argument (which admittedly may not have droppeth as a gentle rain from heaven, but which is nonetheless heartfelt and enthusiastic). Who else but the Bard of Avon? Who else! What? You got someone else? Hey, you? You talkin' to me? You got someone else? Then, bring him on, baby! We are the New York Romance Writers. We can take it! Oh, right, and, by the way, HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!