As you may know, I have been struggling with a book called Crazy for Trying, the book I wrote as a first draft during the 2016 NaNoWriMo, pitched to an editor at California Dreamin’ 2017, submitted to that editor in May of that year, and got a wonderful rejection email.
Yeah, as rejection letters go, the editorial staff loved the concept, loved the fast pace, and loved the way I write. They found the characters too shallow and wanted more from the circumstances under which they were operating. They also seemed willing to look at it a second time if I rewrote and revised it.
Skip ahead to that summer, when my father passed away, I had a deadline on a Bowman’s Inn story and anthology, I had the first holidays without my dad and my best friend, and I agreed to write a fairy tale – based short story. Read, I didn’t get around to working on that story. I did a few chapters on the sequel because the characters wouldn’t leave me alone.
In November of 2017, I won a certificate for a Brainstorm and Breakfast session with published paranormal author, Lisa Kessler. She’s one of my favorite writers, her books always win awards, and she’s going through some life stuff of her own right now. Her generous nature made the meeting with her possible at a time like this. To say I was excited is to way understate my feelings.
We made an appointment but then I had to reschedule for reasons. As it turned out, the best time to meet was yesterday, an hour or so before the regular RWA Chapter meeting. The hotel where we have our meetings also has a pretty good cafe.
I zipped down the freeway, delighted that I set out too early for heavy traffic. We got a table and placed our order, and then the magic happened. This story finally got the heart and soul it needed. I no longer feel as if I will never get it published. I am reinvigorated.
Here are the things that really worked for me with Lisa. She took what I told her about the characters and made suggestions so that I still needed to select what works for me. The work of creating the story remains in my hands. Lisa also never indicated that the story and characters were unrealistic and poorly thought out. She could easily have said the characters were shallow but she jumped in with great questions I had to answer.
The questions were, as we all should know and should be starting with, what is this character’s biggest fear? What drives the character to do what he or she does? What is the black moment? Simple yet the absolute building blocks of the story. And I thought I had that information, but what I had didn’t really support the framework of the rest of the story.
I wrote about villains last Thursday, yet I had a villain who had no real backstory. Now I know that he was in the Army Special Forces. When he discharged, he went to Yale on the GI bill, where he encountered a vast amount of snobbery from the more wealthy students. He studied finances because his poor childhood drove him to make something of himself. His father went to prison when he was young, something he shares with no one.
He became a stockbroker with Hightower Investments and did well, but another broker, married to the boss’s niece, seemed to get all the brakes. If he could remove that guy, he would have everything he wanted fall into his lap.
This bad guy is now willing to frame someone for embezzlement, attempt to murder someone to keep the evidence from being delivered to the DA, and willing to make a last stand when his plans start to fall apart.
Some years ago, I won a similar certificate to meet with a published author, but the results were much less positive. My story at that time suffered a total dissection with most of the material discarded and a touch of don’t even bother thrown in. I know the person involved did their best to help with the story, but the method didn’t work and I have never gone back to that work.
I am so in love with this story, again. Thank you, Lisa, for your guiding hand and story intelligence. By the way, all of Lisa’s werewolf books are now available as audiobooks! Can’t wait to get them.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.