Archives for April 2011

Public Signing – THIS Saturday, April 30th in Geist!!

Join me THIS Saturday, April 30th, from 11am-2pm for my first public book signing! HealthZone Chiropractic Presents: Spring Fling Patient Appreciation Day (clients, guests and strangers welcome)! Don’t have a book yet? No worries, we’ll be selling them at the event! Great door prizes, face painting, a fabulous grand prize gas grill, did I mention I’ll be there signing books?

Health Zone Chiropractic, 11685 Fox Road, in Geist.
Call for more details 317.823.5800.

Other Challenges Writing Merciful Law

Last week I wrote about the biggest challenge in writing Merciful Law. It was the first chapter. It took multiple iterations until I felt chapter one achieved its dual purpose of beginning the story and hooking the reader. I believed if the beginning didn’t capture the reader’s interest, the book would be put down, and that reader would write me off forever. (That would be my optimism shining through.)

The ending has a different pressure, but the same negative outcome if it isn’t good. At Easter dinner my family and I talked about books with poor endings. The general consensus was even if we enjoyed the story, it has to have a strong ending or we’d be reluctant to buy another book from that author. Conversely, a less than stellar book can be redeemed with a powerful ending. A bit like childbirth—you forget the pain of the process if it ends well.

I confessed the first chapter was written and re-written at least seven times. So how many re-writes did the final 20 or so pages go through? Frankly, I lost track. But the last time was during the final editing process three weeks before it went to the printer. I believe my agent was on Prozac by then.

Without giving too much away, I felt the original ending was more in line with a pure romance novel, not romantic suspense (one classification Merciful Law is under), and definitely not adventure/suspense (the other classification it is under). The much longer ending also diluted the action and suspense of the (current) last 100 pages.

Similar to the beginning of the story, I realized I had goals for the ending of the story. First, and like the beginning, I didn’t want it to be predictable. Second, it had to tie up any lose end (or character). Third, it had to be believable. And finally, the last chapter had to leave the reader wanting to read another novel written by yours truly. =)

If you’ve read the final chapter, I’d love to hear your feedback. Did it end how you thought it would? Were you surprised by the ending? Don’t be too specific or we’ll spoil it for others!

Happy writing,

Darby

New Title Showcase at BookExpo America, May 23rd – 26th!!

Congratulations to Merciful Law, a featured title in The New Title Showcase at BookExpo America in New York City this May!

For more information, click here.

Challenges writing Merciful Law

There are many moving parts in writing a novel: plot, setting, character development, dialogue, the beginning, the middle, the end…and that’s all before editing and marketing!  Hands down, the most difficult part of the entire writing process for Merciful Law was the editing.  When it came down to the actual writing, the biggest challenge for me was the first chapter.

Readers have different levels of patience when it comes to engaging in a book.  Personally, my attention span is 30-35 pages…about 30 minutes.  If a book hasn’t hooked me by then, I’ll put it down…and probably won’t buy books by that author again.  I know people who will read the first chapter (at the book store or on the author’s website) to decide if they will even buy the book.  Knowing this, I was highly critical of how the book started.

My editor may have an exact count, but my conservative estimate is the first chapter was re-written seven times—not edited, but re-written.  My first iteration of Merciful Law had roughly 60 pages of lead in.  After the first review with my agent, (once we both stopped snoring—and laughing—and snoring) we decided to cut the majority of that content and ensure the important events or information were referenced later (without boring the reader with details).  

So after cutting easily 50 pages out and rewriting the first chapter three or four times, I thought I had it.  Then my agent read it to her husband (first time he heard the beginning).  He said—it’s good…but, (of course there was a but) …very predictable.

Predictable!  He may as well have called it dull–but when I re-read it, he was right.  So I wrote and rewrote and re-rewrote until the first chapter, although containing the same events, wasn’t ‘very predictable.’  I wanted readers to be stunned, curious and conflicted (deciding if they liked Lawrence or hated him, felt sorry for him or thought he may have gotten what he deserved.) 

My lesson learned—I had three goals for that chapter.  One–NOT to be predictable.  Two–to have readers experience it with surprise, emotion (hopefully conflicted), and curiosity.  And three—hook readers to want to read more!

Now I want to hear from you…if you’ve bought the book great, if not you can read the first chapter on the website, either way read the first chapter and tell me how you received it. Were you conflicted? Did you like Lawrence or hate him? What was your experience? How did it make you feel? Most of all, did it make you want to keep reading?

What Do You Mean it Isn’t Tax Deductible?

Last week I met with my accountant to go over my tax return and review the deductions she didn’t allow. There were several. I made a case for each one typically citing the expense category of ‘literary research.’ She laughed a lot, shook her head often, and once remarked, “I understand now why you are so good at writing fiction…you have a great imagination!”

So as an author, if I was trying to understand or feel the emotion of a character who was going on a shopping spree for a new wardrobe—as Annie did in Merciful Law—and I went on a shopping spree, that spree would not be tax deductible.  Seems unfair.  If during a relaxing massage I had a brainstorm for a great character or twist in the plot—that massage isn’t tax deductible.  Again, seems unfair.

I asked what if I wanted to write a novel set in Hawaii or Costa Rica and needed to go there to research the location?  She answered, “Bring me with you and I’ll be sure to keep track of all your receipts.”  Now that’s customer service!

Although the novel I am currently writing, Killer Coordinates, is set in Chicago, I’m strongly considering a tropical location for the next one.  Any suggestions?

Pick Up Your Pen

Last week I blogged about a writing assignment the Indy Writer’s Group did.  There were many emails expressing interest in this assignment (as well as my mental health)—so this week—you can participate.  Take the very bla paragraph below (or the original paragraph from my previous blog) and make it come alive!  Remember, your readers should feel your words, not just read them. Use action verbs and words that appeal to the senses…showing rather than telling words. (Maximum 150-200 words.)

There are several genres you can choose from while writing—Humor, Adventure, Mystery, Romance, Thriller, Science Fiction, History…please no Erotica.  = )

Option 1:

Edward had walked by this pond many times.  Today was different.  It was colder than usual and today he wasn’t alone. He watched the birds in the air and listened to the sound of the wind.  He smiled, took her hand, and wondered what she was thinking.

Option 2:

Zack stopped for a moment.  It was a fine day.  The sun was out and there was a nice breeze.  He could smell the odor of bread from the bakery as he crossed the street.  He saw Mandy standing on the corner.  He waved.  He knew it was going to be a good afternoon.

Enjoy!