Later this year, about the end of August, if the stars align; I shall type ‘The End’ on my second novel, His Brand of Beautiful, which should be finished about 18 months after I first typed Chapter 1.
The book spent the first six months going dreadfully wrong. Then another six going nowhere fast.
I finished it (the first time) within four or five months and began submitting it to agents, according to everything I’d read about the query process online (yes I only needed to learn about getting published because I already knew how to write. Right?)
Obviously, I write a better query than book.
Two out of three agents I approached responded to the query letter and asked to see the first three chapters and I thought, how easy is this?
Then two rejections.
Luckily, one of those bothered in all of three lines, to tell me very diplomatically the story lacked depth and characterisation.
The other told me I’d head-hopped…
Dear old Google then helped me realise how little I knew about the craft of writing and that there was a whole heap of other stuff to consider, like plot and pacing and emotion and tension and structure and symbolism and premise and… you get the drift.
So I began rewriting. Like chuck the whole lot out and start again rewriting. And revising the rewriting. And living and breathing stuff I figure everyone else must know like ‘show don’t tell.’ And rereading all the books I like all over again to see how they do what they do, and living on the Internet and discovering Alan Rinzler, Nathan Bransford, Bookends, Carolyn Jewel, Jennifer Crusie, Nora Roberts, Alexandra Sokoloff.
And having a heap of fun doing it, getting more and more hooked.
I joined Romance Writers Australia.
And wrote. And wrote. And wrote. After the kids were in bed.
At lunchtime when the youngest still has an hour’s sleep.
While dinner burned and the pasta passed from al dente to mush.
In summer as the kids ran under the sprinkler (we’re on rainwater here mate).
In every last available second until I had to run to pick up No. 1 son from kindy, with his little brother in the pram shouting “faster, mum, run faster” as we haired down the road.
Then a breakthrough moment early in 2012 when I entered a scene from His Brand of Beautiful in the RWA First Kiss competition. (Exactly what it sounds – you enter 1000 words from your novel’s first kiss).
Lo and behold – the judges liked it – and I was one of six finalists. (I’ll post the scene later).
I can’t describe what it meant to have someone who knew what they were talking about say they liked my writing. That call was one of those moments like when a radio station rings to say you’ve won fifty-thousand bucks and you tell them “you’re kidding”. (Which hasn’t happened to me, but if it does – now I’ll know how to react).
I was hugely encouraged! (Understatement).
The last few months have been revising the story thus-far. I’m at Chapter 21. I’ll be revising until about Chapter 23; then re-writing the final two chapters. I think it will come in around the 80,000 words when all is said and done. And then I shall be trying the query process again, hopefully with more success this time around!