Tag Archives: figure skating

Trust Your Story

Tuesday’s Scribe, PJ Sharon here. Have you ever been writing along, minding your plot and meeting your daily word count, only to have your character take you “off track”? Do you catch yourself swearing at your characters and asking them, “Where the *&%*@# are you taking me?” Well, let me tell you…I’ve learned to let them have their way—at least on the first draft. Let me explain why.

After several manuscripts and three or four published novels, I’m finally beginning to trust my internal process. It seems that my unconscious mind knows a lot more about my characters than my conscious mind does and if I let the story evolve organically—rather than trying to control every word that lands on the page—some miraculous things happen. Characters take me to the most interesting places, and if I go along for the ride, there is usually some grand reason they needed to go there. A piece of the puzzle is found, a character flaw is brought to light, or an opportunity for character growth presents itself.

When I wrote ON THIN ICE a few years ago, Penny’s story unfolded and jumped onto the page with such abandon, it seemed as if it was writing itself. I hadn’t planned on all the twists and turns that her story would take, but as it developed and each thread wove itself into her character arc, I had no choice but to follow and see how everything came together in the end. Amazingly, her journey turned out to be profoundly complex and beautiful. Of course, my problem was then trying to sell a story that had multiple subplots and more drama than a season of Dallas.

I had several published authors, a few agents, and even a couple of editors tell me the same thing…get rid of at least two—preferably three—of the subplots. I was told “One teenager could not possibly deal with all of these issues and one or two is enough for any one book if you want to explore them in depth.” So I tried to unravel my plot to remove some of the “unnecessary” subplots. The problem was that I couldn’t. I struggled for several months trying to make the story “marketable” by choosing one story line and then bleeding all over the page for 250 pages. I couldn’t make it work. Deconstructing the story seemed like an impossible task without it losing that special something that made it unique and authentic. Worse, was that it felt like I wasn’t being true to my character. Penny needed to go through all the trials and tribulations she endured in order to become the person she was at the end of the story. It was her journey—not mine—and I didn’t feel right about robbing her of any of the experiences that made her who she was.

Ultimately, I shelved the story and began writing Heaven Is For Heroes, which turned out to be a much more “marketable” story, but by that time, I had decided that the kind of stories I wanted to write were likely not going to fit into a specific mold and that I wasn’t willing to have a traditional publisher “brand” me (ouch!) and put me in a “box” (NO…Not the box!). Enter—Indie publishing.

One of the many things that drew me to Indie pubbing was the freedom to be true to the creative process and write what is in my heart. I’m convinced that there are readers for every well-written book—even if/especially if—it fits outside the box. Why should readers be fed only stories that publishers have deemed saleable? As it turns out, many Indie authors are finding great success because they are taking risks and writing something different. The upsurge in the “New Adult” market proves that readers of all ages want something new–stories that bridge the gap between YA and adult romance–stories about what happens when young adults are faced with real life issues that push them into adulthood.

Although I’ve learned to rein in my characters a bit before they take me too far off course or lead me into some corner I can’t get out of, I’ve also learned to trust my story to take me where my characters need to go to become who they are meant to be—even if it takes me places I never dreamt I’d go. I’ve gotten better at plotting and planning rather than flying by the seat of my pants, but the real joy in writing for me is when my characters take over and lead me on an adventure greater than my mind could have imagined.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart if you’ve already read the book. I greatly appreciate all honest reviews. If you haven’t yet left a review and would like to do so, you can click on the Amazon link below and write a brief line or two about what you liked/or didn’t like about the book. This helps other readers find books that might appeal to them and helps us authors reach new readers. 

So what did you think? Was it too much drama for one book, or did it somehow all work together to make a worthwhile and unique story?on thin ice front cover jpg

If you haven’t read ON THIN ICE, you have one final opportunity to download it for FREE from Amazon this weekend. I won’t be renewing my KDP Select contract, so this is the last time it will be offered as a FREE download for the foreseeable future. It will be available Saturday through Monday, January 26-28th in honor of National Skating month and the US Figure Skating Championships taking place this week.

Bookmark this page and stop back this weekend to download your FREE Kindle copy from Amazon

Although Penny’s dream of Olympic Gold is derailed by life’s cruel twists of fate, she learns what all fierce competitors learn…follow your heart, and never give up.

Book Cover Update, Big City News, and a Short Story

To those of you who
have been sitting on the edge of your seats with me over the cover art debacle,
please sit back and breathe a sigh with me. I received an e-mail that the cover
photo for HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES that we loved so much, has now been made
available for Extended Licensing. The company refunded a portion of the credits
I spent purchasing the back cover photo—which I purchased three times before
finally getting the correct resolution. Ahhh, live and learn.

Needless to say, I’m relieved and
thrilled, and will move forward with my book marketing plans. Although I’m a few
weeks behind schedule, I have in place all of the suggestions my fellow
scribe, J Monkeys set forth in her last week’s blog, indie-publishing part two.
Thank you very much, J Monkeys. I’ll be sure to listen to all of her good
advice.

Which leads me to the
second part of my post. At the National RWA conference,  I learned several new things to add to J’s list. I took a workshop on how to do a blog tour, how to get book reviews, and
how to approach social media and not lose my mind. I learned about revision,
how to mend a broken scene, and what it’s like to write a best-selling YA
romance. It will likely take me weeks to organize and enact some of this new
information and figure out what works for me, but I can’t help but be excited
about the upcoming process. I was encouraged that I am far from alone in my
pursuits.

If I had to boil down
the best advice I received at the conference, it has to come down to the
following words: Author Sophie Gunn said, “Be ambitious, prolific, and
persistent.” Similarly, Diana Gabaldon shared her
three rules to being a successful writer. She said, “First–read everything you
can. Second–write what you love. And third–never stop.”

Before answering the following question or leaving a comment, skip on over to my short story page and read a 2600 word short, based on my novel ON THIN ICE, coming in December of 2011. TUESDAY’S CHILD IS FULL OF GRACE is a precursor to Penny’s story, and will give you a glimpse of her trials in dealing with the world of figure skating and the heartbreaking reality of her mother’s cancer.

Now tell me, What
is the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten?