The difference between people who believe they have books inside of them and those who actually write books is sheer cussed persistence–the ability to make yourself work at your craft, every day–the belief, even in the face of obstacles, that you’ve got something worth saying.” --Jennifer Weiner
At then end of 2013, Andy Roberts, the Chief Technology Officer for Booktrope (my publisher) posted this message to all the authors, saying "Booktrope thanks you for being in the latter category."
I'm sure Andy has no idea how meaningful that post was to me at the time he posted it. To have your publisher or an officer representing your publisher thank you for your sheer dogged determination, in the face of all manner of obstacles each of us faces en route to publication, was balm for my worn-out soul.
I just published my third novel, WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? with Booktrope Editions. Make no mistake, getting to publication is a slog. I had been working on TOM JONES for five years. It began as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2008, and I've been workshopping it (online and on-ground) since then.
The occasion of the publication WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? I thought it might be a nice opportunity to give a shout-out to certain writing professionals (they teach and also write, edit, and publish themselves) who profoundly influenced me, whether they realize it or not.
Alicia Rasley--When I first began writing fiction in 2005, I easily found Alicia's content on the Internet and read (I believe) every thing she had posted on her site. She has tons of great tips and articles to help you develop your craft. I then took one or two of her courses, learning even more, if possible. Alicia's the writer who introduced me to the idea of a journey or narrative arc, that you must consider your protagonist's arc: from delusion to self-discovery, from loneliness to contentment, etc. Spend an hour on her site, and I guarantee you'll learn something, no matter how many books you've written.
Michael Giorgio--I took a couple online mystery writing classes with Michael back in 2008-09 (I think.) He was extraordinarily helpful to me, and his guidance allowed me to realize that I needn't try so hard to be jokey when I write mystery. I took his advice seriously, and allowed the humor in WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? to flow out of the story and the interaction between characters rather than wedge it into the narrative. I appreciated his early, careful feedback on my writing and grew as a writer from it.
Roz Morris--Roz wrote a wonderful post on the value of reincorporation and guest posted on this blog a few years ago. She has lots of other great tips available to help you improve as a writer and deepen that reader writer relationship. The first time I heard her relay that the technique of "reincorporation seems to hit the audience’s satisfaction centres to a primeval degree," I knew she was right, but had never heard it expressed before, let alone so succinctly, and set out to use it in my writing.
Lenore Hart--Lenore was my fiction foundations instructor at Wilkes University. Boy, was she ever tough on me. But I learned a ton from her. She exhibits the most masterful use of figurative language. The way she paints pictures for readers makes me sigh with delight. And we all know readers can't feel a thing you want them to feel without concrete language and details underpinning the scene. When I last contacted Lenore, she was hard at work--as always--on numerous writing projects. Her sheer devotion to hard work alone, always pushing herself, never resting on her laurels, inspires me daily. I featured Lenore here a few years ago, and want to talk with her very soon about some of the new things she's doing for and with writers.
Lori A. May--Lori gave an eye-opening and ultimately life-changing presentation during my last semester at Wilkes University. She introduced me to the idea of literary citizenship (which you can read more about here), which she continues to model in her endeavors. She also introduced me to a model for goal-setting and monitoring toward forward progress and ultimately success as a writer. It's a winning plan she herself has obviously user-tested and proven. I would do well to go back and review since it's easy for life to intervene and sidetrack authors meaning to accomplish this and that.
Thanks to all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping me along my path to publication, for inspiring me and encouraging me. This is my valentine to you, for your wisdom and expertise, so kindly shared for my benefit.