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About Dancer:

Dancer is a contemporary romance written in first person.  Yuck, you say.  I agree.  I personally don't care for romances (or anything else) written in the first person (unless it's Anne McCaffrey, of course!).  I'm not even sure why it came to me to write it in first person; none of my other (100-something) premises and half-plotted (or even half-baked!) stories are in first person, and in fact I have never even considered writing one in the first person!  But somehow, that's just what happened.   The characters, the *voice* of the whole novel, demanded it.  Who am I to argue with them?? LOL!

Now that I've started writing classes and forums on AOL, everybody... but everybody! ...tells me how totally unsellable (is that a word? I don't think so) first-person romance is, and that I should rewrite it in third person.  Well.  Ahem.  NO.  Besides changing completely the voice, the entire face of the novel, it would be a betrayal, on my part, of my hero and heroine.  For some reason, this must be written in the first person.  When I first started, I thought, well okay, I'll write it in first person, and when I'm all done, just as an exercise in writing I'll rewrite it in third person, and see how it is.  But the further into the story I got, the less that became an option.  It's a wonderful, wonderful story (if I do say so), and if I can't sell it because it's in first person, so be it.  More than any of all my other stories, plots and ideas... this story is for ME.  To have written it, is enough.  It may well have to be <grin>

What got me initially started on Dancer, is all those dumb contemporary romances with Arab men as the hero... utilizing every lame, sorry stereotype available since E.M. Hull's "The Sheikh."   At least that has the redeeming quality of 1) not being contemporary, and 2) great characterizations.  Not to mention, a plot.  Mostly with these contemps I get nauseated and toss the book across the room in disgust before I get halfway through.   (Exception:  I absolutely *adored* Iris Johansen's Sedikhan men! but she doesn't write those any more... I am just sick that she's moved away from mainstream romance to romantic suspense  {sniffle}).  Anyway, I decided to write a novel with an Arab hero *myself* and he was NOT going to be some macho sadistic JERK that any woman would have to be some kind of masochist (or have serious codependent issues) to fall in love with (if that's what you want to call it).  I've stopped buying them myself, but I hear the horror stories from my writer friends online who do read them as they come out.  

EXCEPTION! EXCEPTION!  I just ran across a wonderful "sheikh" story, by Day LeClaire, "To Marry a Sheikh" from Harlequin Romance, October 2000.

As for myself, I have lived for a year in Cairo, Egypt as an exchange student, and 10 years later I went to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, working there under contract for a year.  This happened to coincide with Saddam Hussein's (Marquis de Sad-dam) invasion of Kuwait, and the resulting events.  I also speak (or at least, used to) fluent Arabic, although I remember more than I think I do when I'm with other Arabic speakers.  The hero of Dancer, Khalid, comes straight out of my dreams <sigh>   I've also added a sprinkling of young Saudi men and women, students at the university where Khalid is a professor.  These are not based on any particular Arabs that I have known, but instead are culled from my general experience from living within the Middle Eastern culture, and are portrayed as true as I could make them.

So here's my premise:  HE is a Saudi, teaching Middle Eastern studies at UCSB (University of California, Santa Barbara).  SHE is a belly dancer (using the stage name Cassandra) at a local ethnic restaurant.  That sets up a nice conflict, don't you think? :)  He pursues her determinedly, but she believes he is only interested in the belly dancer, and not the shy social worker behind the glittering costume.  Here's an excerpt from the first chapter:

     "He still hadn't recognized me after all this time, but in fact I was getting a bit tired of his continued presence.  Like many American girls, I had dreamt of Rudolph Valentino acting as my valet or, conversely, crossing the great Nefud by camel at the head of a huge bedouin army in company with Omar Sharif.  Therefore, I naturally had no great objection to being ridden off with across the saddle-bow, whether horse, camel or Mercedes (as Arabs these days appear to be fond of driving). And let me tell you, this guy could have given old Omar a run for his money.
     But I had always dreamed that such a romantic figure would be wanting me, not someone else. And that's who Cassandra was: Someone Else.  It was Cassandra that Khalid wanted, and he was apparently prepared to spend both a great deal of time and money to pursue her.  But he was, frankly speaking, panting up the wrong tree.  I was Sarah, and Sarah was about as far removed from Cassandra as it was possible for two persons to be."

November 10, 2000I am currently working hard on finishing Dancer.  I am participating in Painted Rock's Book In a Week challenge (the week of November 6 to 13) and am up to 50,000 words.  My goal is to finish Dancer in time to enter it into RWA's Golden Heart Contest.  I have to send in the entry form and fee by November 15th, so if I can get within 50 pages of being  complete by then, I will enter it, as the manuscripts are not due to RWA until December 10th, giving me time to edit and polish.  So far I've written 101 pages  and have only 32 pages to finish the novel, at least for the minimum length.  <<<nerves>>>  Actually, I'm very pleased... I've never written more than 37 pages in one week before, and that was in the last BIAW in October, and I've already surpassed that in the first three days!  Waaaaaaay cool, as my daughter would say!  Unfortunately I got sick (flu) right in the middle of week's  BIW, but I'm still hoping to hang in there for another 20-30 pages.

For every novel, I find one picture that is my inspiration, the embodiment of the feelings I want to portray, the voice... something that moves me and that just looking at it puts me in touch with my story, my characters.  For Dancer, it is this picture that I found on the web.  It is an Israeli bellydancer, a beautiful young woman named Lilach Gavish.   I have written her to ask permission to post the picture, which you see here, but haven't heard back from her yet.  Do visit her page, it's terrifically interesting, as is she!  And if you get the chance, go to see her dance!  I know that I'm going to!

While we're on the subject, do visit this marvelous website I found for "The Sheikh" with Rudolph Valentino (I've never actually seen the movie, myself... will have to check eBay!), which I stumbled across while searching Yahoo to make sure that E.M. Hull was indeed the author.  Okay, so yes, it's been a couple of decades since I've read the book... you caught me <guilty grin>  But I daresay I'd like it just as much now as I did back then... more than the (ahem) that is being written today!  

November 24, 2000 9:00 a.m.  I have FINISHED Dancer!!!  All 307 pages of it!  HURRAY!

November 26, 11:45 p.m.  I have just spent two days editing/polishing the manuscript, and this morning I started printing it out for the Golden Heart.  One copy of the full manuscript, and six copies of the first 55 pages.  Ugh.  It's taken all day!  

November 27.  I'm not so terrifically happy about Dancer anymore.  I feel like it needs more.  Yes, the STORY is all written... but I feel like there is so much more I could have written.  More about Fatima and the other Saudi women, more with Sarah and Khalid.  I'm not sure if I'm going to do anything about it.  I'm not going to send out Dancer yet, however (with the exception of the Golden Heart), unless one of the agents does call me back about Truck Stop and agrees to take me on as a client.  In the meantime, I'm going to "sit" on it and give it some time, and add more if it really seems like I just can't rest without doing so.

December 10.  After finishing Dancer, I wasn't going to write any more until the New Year.  Well, I made it this far.  Everyone I know said, "I knew you couldn't make it to New Years!"  *laugh*  I've started working on Behind the Clouds, a novel that I began over 15 years ago, when I was in college and pregnant with my daughter, Christina.  Despite the fact that I started this long before I even thought of Dancer, it's going to be a spin-off of Dancer, starting some six months after Khalid and Sarah are married.  The heroine, Lisa, will have met Sarah in Dancer and become fast friends, and both she and the hero, Jesse, are students of Khalid's. 

December 13.   I was talking to the editorial assistant at Silhouette, and mentioned that I had started on my third novel.  She said, oh, did you finish the second one?  I said well yes, but I hadn't told her about it since it was in the first person.  She said not to worry about that, Silhouette is just starting a new line, Red Dress Ink, and they are accepting first person submissions!   She told me to send it to her right away for consideration, even though they hadn't entirely finished working up the guidelines for the new line yet!  Zowwies!  I was up ALL night printing out the new manuscript!  you bet!

January 8, 2001.  I had posted an excerpt from Dancer on www.RoseDog.com and today I got an email response from Five Star Romances, a small publisher of romance novels and women's fiction up in Maine.  The editor had written inviting me to submit Dancer!  waaaay cool!  They are recognized by RWA, btw.

January 22, 2001.  I just got the guidelines for Red Dress Ink in the mail.  I don't think there's any way that Dancer fits into that.  Oh well.  So on that basis, I went ahead and sent the manuscript off to Five Star.  Just in the general way, Silhouette doesn't allow multiple submissions, but I have no qualms about sending Dancer out again, as it's only a matter of time before my rejection letter arrives from Silhouette; even if they *like* it, Red Dress Ink is the only line which accepts first person, so it's not like they're going to refer it over to Special Edition or something.  (Too bad, huh? <grin>)

I am, however, definitely going to do some more writing on Dancer.  It's about 79K words, and it needs to be 90-100K words to be marketed as a single-title.  This isn't actually a problem, as I'd been feeling all along that more needed to be written.  It's just a matter of brainstorming what and where to add :)  I've already added the parts introducing Jesse and Lisa into Dancer, I can expand on that a bit.  And I have a couple of other ideas as well, I just need to let them "simmer" a little more.

February 26, 2001.  I finished bringing Dancer up to single-title length, finishing at about 95,500 words.  I added some GREAT new scenes and did some polishing, and I'm much more pleased with it than I was before.

March 6, 2001.  Ack!  I called Silhouette, since it had been a couple of months since I'd talked to them, to see where Truck Stop was.  Parenthetically, I mentioned that I had had some nibbles on Dancer, and was going to send it out since I knew it didn't fit in the Red Dress Ink line.  She told me, no, don't!  She said that it had been read, and although not suitable for RDI (which I knew), it had been recommended for Special Edition!   What??!!  B-b-b-b-ut, Special Edition doesn't do first person.  Well, she says, it's been recommended and is under consideration, and in the process of moving through the system.   aaackkkk!!!!  I'm so happy I'm all but levitating!  I never, EVER thought for an INSTANT that it might be considered for Special Edition!  Are we excited?  OH yes!

March 18, 2001.  Another zowwies!  Five Star Romances has written to ask me to send the full manuscript of Dancer!  Okay, now what?  I'd sent them the partial on the assumption that Silhouette was going to reject Dancer out-of-hand... which they haven't done, obviously!  And Silhouette doesn't permit you to submit to other publishing companies at the same time as they have it.  Decisions.... *sigh*  At any rate, I've got it all printed out and ready to go, I think I'm going to hang onto it until I hear something definitive, one way or the other, from Silhouette.  I think.  You know... this "business" of writing is harder than the darned writing, and practically takes more time!  I wish I could just *write* and not have to worry about all this.  Geez. Not that I'm not having fun *grin*  

July 17, 2001.  I went to New Orleans, to RWA's National Conference, my very first time!  Look below in Bennett's Story for a chronicle of events, since it was Bennett's Story that I wound up pitching, rather than Dancer.

November 6, 2001. Today in the mail came the full ms "Dancer" back from Silhouette... with a REVISION letter!  While I know it's nothing like an acceptance, still it was a BIG DEAL to me, LOLOL!  Basically she said, these particular things don't work, fix them and send it back to me.  I called her immediately and practically screamed in her ear, "Ohmigosh, you sent me a REVISION letter????!" and she was laughing at me and saying yes, it's a revision letter, and she'd have sent it sooner if she'd known I was going to get this excited over it <laugh>  So we went over a couple of specific things she'd had in her letter, and she was still laughing when we got off the phone.   

The very same day, I also got her letter asking me for the full ms of "Bennett's Story" ...talk about your double-pleasures day! 

February 11, 2002.  I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to realize that it's been exactly a year and a day since he died.  I wrote myself a "Declaration of Freedom" and determined that I was going to stop stalling out, and go forward now.  I even went as far as reading through the printed manuscript, to get back "in tune" with the characters and story line, and pouring over Silhouette's suggested revisions.  Mostly, though, when I went in to start trying to write, I just stared, clueless, at the last lines of the scenes I was trying to rewrite :(

April 5, 2002. I finally got my act in gear, and finished the revisions on Dancer.  I don't really know what it was that finally made the difference; perhaps seeing Truck Stop in print, perhaps the local truck stop ordering copies of it, perhaps the feedback coming in from complete strangers who'd read it.  I just know that, one morning I woke up and decided to sit down and write the revisions... and I did!  Once I got started, the words just began to flow!  It took me all of two days, and wound up with another 3,000 lines, to just 98K! Then another two days to pour over it, line-editing for errors, and then I printed it out, packed it up and shipped it off to Silhouette.

...and forgot to enclose the SASE  ***laugh***

April 16, 2002.  A literary agent has invited me to submit to her!  She requested partials of both Dancer and Bennett's Story.  I stayed up all night printing them out and getting them packaged.  Okay, well, not all night... but I had to go over them again and make sure there were no errors or the "silly" kinds of mistakes a spellchecker won't catch, like their/there/they're, that sort of thing.  I'm usually pretty good about not making those kinds of mistakes...it's practically second nature for me to catch them as I type them... but I've discovered that under the stern influence of my Muse, sometimes I *do* make those kinds of little mistakes that I wouldn't ordinarily.  Anyway, I shot them off to her first thing in the morning, of course!

April 22, 2002.  Ulp.  I've heard from the agent already... she wants to see the full manuscript of Dancer!  This is where things get nerve-wracking for me. I can send out query letters and receive return-mail form rejections til the cows come home <laugh> without getting bent out of shape about it.  But when someone asks for the FULL manuscript... she's going to READ my story, all of it! ...yep, now's when I get nervous and start pacing the floor and having butterflies in my stomach and lay awake at night with my brain doing the "will-she-won't-she" mantra.  It's not the rejections that are the hard part...it's the WAITING, once my hopes are up.  You'd think I'd know better by now, wouldn't you?  Still... all it takes is one person... the *right* person... to read it, and like it... one person to believe in me, one person to think as she reads, "hey, we've really got something here!"  Someone who is NOT my mom, LOL!  (Sorry, Mom... no offense! <smooch>)

July 10, 2002.  Well, that agent rejected me, but another asked to see the ms.  This is a strange world :)  In the meantime, I've decided, upon consultation and long deep thoughts, to attempt to write Dancer in the more traditional (and acceptable) third person.  I have, of course, saved the original in a separate file, as well as on CDROM.  This is just an experiment.  Funnily enough, once I'd *decided* to make the attempt, ideas for how I could write this-and-that scene in Khalid's or Sarah's POV came flying at me.  So I sat down and rewrote the first three pages, the opening scene... and it was GOOD!  Really good!  So I'm going to continue on, cautiously, and see how it goes.  I'm not willing to sacrifice the essence of the story and characters in order to sell the book, so if it seems not to be working out, I'll scrap it and stick with the original.  But I think it's going to, and I'm definitely looking forward to writing more of this first chapter in third person!  It definitely has its own seduction.....

Sunday, October 20, 2002.  I finished the third-person rewrite of Dancer, and I couldn't be more pleased with it.  I'm going to start querying some of the agents who'd rejected it in first person.  I've got a really great scene in the middle, in Khalid's POV, when he's in Saudi Arabia at Bennett's bedside in the hospital, and he gets a call from his sister Nadia telling him that Magda's claimed to be engaged to him, and no one can reach Sarah to tell her differently.  It's a fantastic scene, gives me chills up my spine to read it, besides hyperventilating with anxiety (his), and was something I couldn't have written in the original first person version.  Once the idea for the scene came to me and I sat down at the computer, it practically wrote itself!  I did it all in one sitting, back in July right after that first chapter rewrite, and I've gone in to read it over and edit it several times since then, and it just doesn't need any editing at all.  It came right off the tips of my fingers just the way it's supposed to be!  Hah!  I wish ALL the writing was like that! LOL!

 

February 10, 2001. I got the worst of bad news today.  My own Hero, the man I've been in love with for 30 years, has died.  How can I write romance when my hero is dead?  How can one write happily ever after, when he's no longer here?


May 2001.  I've been trying to work hard on Bennett's Story... I've gotten a good halfway through, but to be honest, I'm seriously thinking about taking a break from it and working on Into the Storm instead.  I started it right after I finished my major revision of Dancer, and frankly, I'm finding it's hard to get the distance I need from Dancer, to concentrate on Bennett and Tanya.  I'm still too in love with Khalid *laugh* and too hurting from the death of my own hero *cry* ...since this novel takes place in Khalid and Sarah's home, it's a little hard to ignore him.  sooooooo.... taking up a completely different story might be a good idea.  To be honest, I'm having trouble writing anything at all, but I'm hanging in there and trying as best I can.  Especially as I know that this is a phase and that I'll get past it, and then I'll look back and be sorry for any opportunities I missed while I was dealing with this grief and utter despair, so I try to keep on going forward.  It's hard, though, and I'm starting to worry if the chest twinges I'm having are from the devastation I feel at his loss, which I'd assumed they were, or actual heart problems, since they had begun resulting in near-blackout episodes. 

At the same time, I'm looking forward to going to RWA national conference in a couple of months and I'd like to have either finished, or reasonably near finished, manuscript that's a bit more marketable than Truck Stop and Dancer.  Truck Stop is problematic because Teri is so young, and Dancer because it's written in first person.  So I'd like to have something a little more mainstream, which leaves me deciding between Bennett's Story and Into the Storm.  My critiquers, when asked their opinion, *strongly* encouraged me to go with Into the Storm; as one of them said, it "...has a riveting opening... is very trendy in that it's suspense/intrigue... exotic, exciting hero at the outset... gutsy heroine who puts herself on the line for him in the first chapter..."  Goodness, I was so impressed!  I hadn't even thought of it in those terms, myself, LOL!  Hmmm, maybe I should hire her as my Marketing/Promotion Manager?  :)  So anyway, I've given myself until June 4th to dilly-dally and hem and haw, and decide which of my two half-finished WIPs I'm going to concentrate on for the next six weeks.

July 10, 2001.  I finally gave in and went to the ER.  I spent an anxious 3 days in the hospital while they ran every test known to man, looking for first heart disease, which they ruled out quickly, and then for a suspected pulmonary embolism (because of the chest pressure and vision changes).  Fortunately (or not, depending on how you look at things), they didn't find anything at all except slightly low potassium.  Basically they said I need to find some grief counseling.  It didn't help that my hospital room had a lovely large picture window, and a window seat, and if you looked far in the distance you can almost see the cemetery where he's buried.  I spent most of my time sitting on that window seat, with my IV lines trailing along behind me, wishing I could join him there.

However, with a clean bill of health, and an admonition to eat bananas and drink fortified orange juice, there was nothing to do but look forward to my upcoming trip to New Orleans.  I determined to make the most of that, and to use that to raise my emotional state, and get me re-motivated to write, and then afterwards to hang onto that forward motion and not let myself fall back into the abyss once I got home.

July 18, 2001.  I went to RWA's National Conference in New Orleans, where I had a COMPLETE blast, enough so that I have four separate webpages just devoted to pics from that.  I met such notables as Nora Roberts, Linda Howard (who was gracious enough to sign my old, tattered favorite of hers, "White Lies," Merline Lovelace, Maggie Shayne, Suzanne Brockmann, Vicki Barrett, and so many more I can hardly remember! I also had editor and agent appointments, and came home with four... count 'em, FOUR! requests for "Bennett's Story."  Now, you haven't heard previously about Bennett's Story.  It's the sequel to Dancer, and not quite done yet.  I agonized over what to do, since you're supposed to have a full manuscript to pitch at National, and I had already pitched Truck Stop to everyone via query letter and had it rejected.  Silhouette currently had Dancer, but Silhouette likes to have exclusive submissions.  It occurred to me though, that it would be an exceptional editor who was interested in a first-person novel by a first-time author, so I decided to first offer them my completed manuscript, Dancer, and be ready to pitch Bennett's Story if/when they declined hearing about Dancer.  And that is exactly what happened!  

I didn't have any pitch ready before I went to National... in fact, I had no clue how to make a pitch.  But my first editor appointment was for Friday afternoon, and on Friday morning, Patricia McMahon was having a workshop on Turning Your Novel Into Your Pitch.  I took copious notes all through the workshop, then fled to my hotel room, where I spent the next several hours on my laptop, hammering out not one, but two pitches... one for Dancer (just in case) and one for Bennett's Story.  Since I didn't have a printer, I had just enough time to jot down the pertinent points of my pitch before heading downstairs for my editor appointment. 


How did I get four requests for my manuscript, when I only had one agent and one editor appointment?  Well, when I arrived for my editor appointment Friday afternoon, the editor hadn't shown up yet for her several appointments.  This was not just disappointing, but fairly crushing, given my marathon race to work up two pitches, the heming and hawing for weeks over just what to wear, the bundle of nerves that'd been keeping me company since I left my room, pitch in hand.  The girl at the appointments desk said she'd try to find someone else who might squeeze us in.   Half an hour later, she told us that an editor from another house had agreed to see us after her own appointments, and with thankful sighs of relief, the some half dozen of us settled in to wait.  However, it seemed that this second editor had in her turn forgotten some other assignations she'd made elsewhere after her stint seeing writers, and had to rush out, but she left us each her card, requesting us to send a partial.  Some of the other writers were then satisfied, and left. But doggone it, I'd come all this way to SEE an editor, and I wanted to see one!  A couple of others felt the same way, and the gal at the appt. desk managed to find each of us another editor.  I wound up seeing an editor from NAL who said she was interested in seeing someone with a contemporary to pitch.  She seemed a little dubious about my premise at first (I was pitching Bennett's Story, after she'd declined interest in the first-person romance), and seemed half inclined to let her attention wander, so I switched gears from the pitch as I'd started it, and launched into another aspect of the story, and wound up catching her interest enough that she was asking me questions, and in the end she requested not a partial, but the full manuscript!  I walked out of the conference room on Cloud Nine, my cup of joy full!

My cup was to overflow.  The appt. desk lady told me that the editor I'd originally had the appointment with, had shown up. She was not, in fact, late at all.... months before she'd called RWA to reschedule her appointment times, and they hadn't made the appropriate changes in scheduling.  She was a little put out, to say the least, at being thought to be late!  (and who can blame her?)  Anyway, since she was from a publishing house that did not accept queries from unagented authors (which is why I'd chosen her for my appointment), I asked the appt. lady if I could just stick my head in the door, so to speak, and introduce myself to the editor and say "Hello, I'm sorry to have missed meeting with you."  Well, not only that, but the editor asked me to sit down and chat, as she had a few minutes before her next appointment came in. She was terrifically nice, and asked me about my book (also eschewing the first person) and gave me her card and invited me to send a partial!  YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!

August 2001.  I came  home on Cloud Nine, determined to finish Bennett's Story.  I edited the first three chapters like mad, and the synopsis, and shot them off to the two editors and one agent who'd requested partials.  Then September 11th happened, and I fell off-track, like everyone else.  I never did get that full manuscript off to the editor at NAL who'd asked for it, and still haven't finished it yet, either, as of this writing (April 2002).  By the time it's finished, I should imagine it'd be too late to send it to her.

November 6, 2001.  The editor at Silhouette requested the full manuscript of Bennett's Story!  In the same mail, however, also came the revision letter for Dancer. When I called her that same day, she said she'd rather have the revisions first, so I've put Bennett's Story aside while I concentrate on Dancer.

April 2002.  I've just finally finished and sent off the revisions of Dancer.  Now back to Bennett's Story.  I'm doing Painted Rock's Book In a Week, and although I only wrote 10 pages (pretty sorry, huh?), I also got a lot of other editing done, of the kind that doesn't necessarily add to the length.  I now have chapters 1 through 14 in a continuum, having added to several incomplete chapters to make a transition to the next chapter.  I'm just over 71,000 words, so I still have a ways to go, but it's looking good, and I'm feeling positive about it.

May 1, 2002.  Anyway, now that I'm a quivering mass of nerves, with at least several weeks to get through before I hear anything definitive from the literary agent on Dancer, and I'm back to working on Bennett's Story.  Christina's going to be gone to a competition in California with her high school choir for four days over this weekend, and I'm going to take this opportunity to write... I'm rearranging my work schedule so I don't work those four days, and I plan to really dive into my story.  I've only got about 16,000 words to go (minimum), and I know what's happening in the plot, so I shouldn't have that much problem with it... just a matter of doing it.  And listen... if I can write almost all of Dancer in *five weeks*, I darned well ought to be able to pretty much finish up 16k words in four days!  So tomorrow I'll start brewing up gallons of iced tea, and throw together a few casserole dishes so I don't have to worry about such mundane things as cooking while I'm on a roll.  I'll clean off my desk and polish it (Pledge Wipes), and get a BIW daily progress form made up to keep track of my page count as I go, print out the updated outline and post it on my wall, chose some fresh candles to burn (for the ambience), get my favorite hand lotion to keep on the desk.... hey this is going to be FUN!  I'll take a nap tomorrow afternoon, and then after I come home from seeing my daughter off on her bus trip to California (at 11:00 p.m.! good grief!) I plan to dive right in, and write all night... just to get a good start on things :)  I'll use this long weekend to kick-off a Book in a Week challenge starting the 6th :)

 Keep reading to see what *really* happened! <LOL>

May 2-6, 2002.  Or... "How Real Life Gets in the Way of Writing."

Thursday nite, May 2nd.  11:00 p.m.  I come back from leaving Christina at the high school, and drop into bed, exhausted.  I'll write in the morning!

Friday, May 3rd.  I slept in.  I'm meeting a writer friend for lunch, so I know not to get so deep into my novel that I can't get out, but this is no big deal... I have 14 chapters already written, and I wanted to go over them anyway, first for editing, and second to pull me back into the storyline and the characters.  I do that until I meet my friend, and we linger over lunch and conversation for 3-1/2 hours.  I come home and start checking my email, ready to dive into Bennett's Story.  The phone rings.  It's another friend who wants to meet for dinner.   UGH!  I'm still full from lunch!  I start thinking of ways to politely decline, when she tells me her husband got a super-duper new job, they just got the first check, they're celebrating.  Since she's the friend who more or less held my hand all through this last year while I mourned, and celebrated my publication of Truck Stop with me, now it's her turn... of course I want to be there for her when her good fortune arrives!  So we go out to dinner and spend several hours talking and laughing and so forth.  I got home at 10 p.m. and fell into bed.  I'll write in the morning! 

Saturday, May 4th.  I got up at 7 and found that my 16-year-old cat, Gloria, who had a stroke a few weeks ago, suddenly had what I think may have been another stroke.  I'll spare you the long details, but she could no longer control her tongue to be able to eat.  By 10 a.m. I had made the difficult decision that NO pet owner wants to make, and took her to have the Dreadful Deed done.  It was the right thing to do, she was beginning to suffer, but... I imagine you'll understand that I spent all the day and into the night crying.  Anyway... I'll write in the morning.

Sunday, May 5th.  The weekend may not be a total loss for writing.  I operate on the 24-hour/overnight rule... when something awful happens that knocks me off my tracks, I allow myself 24 hours to get over it.  That is, I get to fall apart (whether it's anger or sadness or whatever) all day; then go to sleep at night, and when I wake up in the morning, I get up out of bed and go forward.  But I give myself that one day to, as Wellington said, "tie a knot" before I go on.  I wrote two pages.  Yuck.  It took all day.  It drove me crazy, because I know I'm capable of writing 20 pages a day, so what gives with this 2 pages stuff??? grrrrrrr....

Monday, May 6th.  With lots of sitting staring at the computer screen all day, I wrote another 3 whole pages.  Bennett just was NOT cooperating.  Nor was my Muse.  Still... I have 5 pages more than I had on Thursday, so I guess that's something.   However, Monday night I kept waking up all through the night with ideas, and I woke up on Tuesday rarin' to go.  Of course, now my vacation is over and I have to work.  Arrrgghhhhh!!!!  I also got yet another form rejection letter for my file folder.  Actually, it was a postcard.  Took me a few minutes to realize, I thought someone had sent my query and partial back without anything at all, and I didn't even know who it came from!  Then the postcard fell out, so at least I could mark them off on my list.

Wednesday, May 8, 2002.  I'm still writing... so far 3 pages a day.  It's not 20 a day, but it's steady, a definite improvement from this last year's zip!  I'm going to have to add to my Affirmations page something about being happy with 3 pages a day, instead of kicking myself for not writing more. 

Sunday, May 12, 2002.  The end of BIW.  From the 6th to the 12th, I wrote 28 pages... just over half of the 54 I need to hit my 340 page (85k) minimum!  Am I thrilled???? OH yeah!  26 pages to go... and counting!  If I can keep up the momentum, I can be done... or at the least, reach my minimum word count... by the end of this week.  Here's hoping!

Saturday, Aug. 10, 2002.  I finished Bennett's Story today!  It's Painted Rock's August BIW, I wrote 36 pages this week, for a Grand Total of 393 pages (98,250 words).

Sunday, Aug. 11, 2002.  I've just been going through and editing.  I don't know how I managed to do it... presumably because I started writing this so long ago, and the problem stayed with me all the way through, but I discovered that my top and bottom margins were set at 3/4ths and 1/2 inch, respectively... supposed to have 1" margins all around.  I had to go into every chapter (all 25!) and change the margins, grrrrrrrrrrr!  However, that increased my Grand Total to 406 pages (101,250 words).  I also finished one scene that I hadn't ever been quite happy with, which added another 4 pages to the above.

Wednesday Sep. 25, 2002.  I finished the edits of Bennett's Story, and got the full manuscript off to Silhouette, as well as almost a dozen queries to agents.  Now I just have to sit back and let the rejections roll in, LOL!

Sunday, Aug. 11, 2002.  I've just finished Bennett's Story and have picked this one to do next.  Over the last years, I've written just a little bit of this...four pages of the first chapter.  It's not much but hey! it's a start!  First though I have to finish editing Bennett's Story and get that out, and then rewrite Dancer in the third person, because I really, REALLY want to enter both of those in the Golden Heart this year.  I'd like to enter this one too, but the chances of my finishing it in time (December) are slim, and I want to make sure I have both the other two ready to go, since they have the advantage of being completed.  

 

I just heard about NaNoWriMo.... or, National Novel Writing Month, which is November.  They've got a website where writers can sign up.  Your goal is to write 50,000 words of a new novel.  I'd like to do Into the Storm, if they won't mind those first four pages I wrote a few years ago... I'd promise to leave those out of the required page count!  But if not, I'll work on the next Al Mansour brother, Michael.  I've been brainstorming that one already (just in case), and it has its own page ready to go, A Wife For Michael.

 

November 2, 2002.  Okay, forget all that!  I'm writing on Wishes in a Bottle which has it's own NaNoWriMo page here on my site... click over to keep an eye on my progress, which I'll be updating as I remember and/or get time and/or can tear myself away from my writing to update it, LOL!  This is the paranormal romance... the hero is a Jinn (or Genie) trapped in a magic spell of his own making (as in, be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it!).  

November 8, 2002.  Okay, you're not going to believe this.  I'm no longer writing Wishes in a Bottle, but "A Gift of Jacinth."  Jacinth is a female Jinn who made a sudden appearance in a scene in Wishes in a Bottle.  Immediately she began to take over my brain cells, and wanted her own story.  Which is fine, I put her in line to write next.  But she wouldn't STAY there, she kept rudely interrupting, and not allowing me to concentrate on my major characters.  Bowing to an irresistible force, I'm writing Jacinth's story.  And it's GREAT!  I couldn't be more pleased with how it's shaping up so far!  I zoomed off 11 pages in just a couple of hours, the first evening that I gave over to it!

December 10, 2002.  I've also cancelled my epublishing contract with SynergEbooks.  Long story.  Anyway, I've been toying with the idea of revising it to single title size (about 20k more, to 100k words), and make it more acceptable to mainstream romance publisher, and maybe trying to do something more with it later.  Much later ;)  Right now my goal is to go forward on the WIPs I have currently lined up, so this is sort of a back-burner type project for the long-term.

 

January 8, 2003.  Well.  I've *almost* got an agent, and I've *almost* got an offer from Silhouette.  (And my daughter said, "Wow, Mom.  I'm *almost* excited for you."  LOL!).  Here's the story:  New Year's Eve day, I got email from an agent, who asked to see the full ms of Bennett's Story. She said I could call with any questions. She'd already rejected, last year, Dancer in the first person. Bennett is the second in that series, and she was interested in the whole series, which seemed like a good indication, right? She said she thought Silhouette was a good match for me, and asked me to look up their guidelines on the web and get back to her with what I thought.
I decided to wait until I'd talked to the editor at Silhouette who has Dancer. I was supposed to call her on Monday the 6th and she'd tell me if she was going to reject it, or pass it up to the senior editor with a recommendation. However, on Monday she sent me email saying she didn't have time to talk, and she'd call me on Tuesday. Which figures, since it's the first day back after a two week vacation.  So I went ahead and called the agent. We must have talked for an hour. She remembered Dancer, and said she'd LIKED it (yessss!), she just didn't think she could sell it in first person, so she was pleased that I'd rewritten it in third person, and also that I had a "genie" paranormal in progress. By the time I got off the phone with her, I had (unofficially) an agent, and I was to report back the results of my talk with the editor.


On Tuesday afternoon, the editor from Silhouette called. She definitely wants Dancer, and almost certainly Bennett's Story, as well as the two in the series following, and mentioning the possibility of two two-book contracts. She liked Dancer, and told me: "I want this." She said (I took notes, LOL): "You do have talent, and there is potential in your story. You obviously know what you're doing." The *problem* is where to put Dancer, which doesn't quite fit into any of their lines exactly. She thinks it would work best into Desire, I think fits better into Special Edition. The end result is, I'm going to cut it down to SE length (it's currently at 102k, because I wrote it for single title originally) and send it to her next month after Silhouette relocates to their new home, and we'll take it from there.

I called the agent back on Wednesday morning to report on the conversation. Once I have the revisions on Dancer made and back to Silhouette, that's the point at which she'll step in to represent me; there's nothing she can do now, since Silhouette has both mss and I have revisions to make. I'm supposed to send her everything, and she already has the partial of my "genie" paranormal, A Gift of Jacinth, and she pulled that out of her inbox to look at right away. Once she gets the full mss of Dancer and Bennett's Story, we'll talk after she's read them and can give me her input on which imprint she thinks Dancer is best suited for, and where we go from here.
So how's that for ambiguous (but really great!) news?

March 19, 2003.  Um. Wow.  The most interesting things happen when I'm not expecting it, LOL!  I've been contacted by an audiobook producer, wanting to negotiate the audio rights to Truck Stop!  WOW!  Just when I'd decided to walk away from it for awhile, wham!  I guess it's not meant to be on the back burner!  Am I excited???!! Oh yeah.... just look at all the exclamation marks in this paragraph, LOL!  I've talked with him and he's going to email me a copy of the contract to look over.  He has his marketing and distribution already in place, he supplies audiobooks to libraries and all the major chain bookstores, and in addition to that, he has vendor contracts with 85-90% of the truck stops across the U.S. and Canada!  This is definitely exciting!

June 2, 2003.  I got an email from the editor at Silhouette.  She will be sending the manuscripts of both Dancer and Bennett's Story on up to the senior editor in charge of the new HQN single-title imprint!  Yesss!!!!  No, it's not a guarantee of a sale... but it's the closest I've gotten so far.  VERY close, in fact.  I'm hoping, because HQN is a new imprint and they've got a publishing schedule to fill right away, that she'll be reading most everything that crosses her desk pretty quickly (especially as it's already been read and vetted), and that I'll hear... one way or the other... within weeks, not months.  Oh, I am hoping SO hard!!!!  I'm also trying NOT to hope quite so hard, so that I won't be terrifically let down if they're rejected.  But as they say in the Disney song, "though hope is frail, it's hard to kill."

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