‘The Goldens’ Update

Happy Monday, friends! I’ve been getting some questions about my novel, The Goldens, so I thought I’d give you an update.

Several months ago I decided that I needed to fill out the story a little more, so I made the choice to delay publication. As the story stood, it was more of a novella. When I sent it out to publishers, I was concerned that it was too short. Even after its acceptance, that feeling nagged at me. It has the potential to be a very rich and full story, and I really want it to realize that potential. It’s a good story in the form it is in now, but I want it to be one of those stories that sticks with you long after you read it.

Some people (like my husband) say I’m over thinking it. At first, I thought the same–but then I started dreaming about the characters. I realize that makes me sound a little crazy, but it’s a sure sign that I’m not done with a piece of writing.

characters

So while it’s not back to the drawing board entirely, I am delving back into David Graff’s life and ironing out some details. I’m excited to see where this story is going to go.

Does this happen to you? Do characters stay in your head after you finish writing (or reading) a story?

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How Do You Write?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing process.

In the past, I’ve written in long stretches late at night. My characters take over my thoughts–they talk to me in the shower and get really crabby if I leave them alone too long. I get into a zone where I’m walking around in this world, but my mind is in my writing.

ImaginaryFriends

And now I’m a mother, and there is very little opportunity to be in the zone. For awhile it stopped me from writing. Then I started writing what would turn out to be The Goldens, and the whole thing was written in fits and starts. It was ten minutes here, writing standing up when I had time, adding notes about it on my iPhone when I thought of them. Somehow, it turned into a book, and miraculously, a publisher wanted it.

A close friend told me that my success was due to the fact that I simply don’t have time to over think everything as I did when I was in “the zone”. Motherhood has converted me to the wham, bam, thank you ma’am method of writing.

InmyHead

There are some days, however, that my brain really wants to be in the zone. I wake up with a conversation I’ve had with a fictional character still on the tip of my tongue. The songs on the  radio remind me of people I have penned. And on those days it is almost euphoric when the evening has come and I can put JC to bed and sink into writing, even though I know morning and parenting will come quickly. That’s what coffee was invented for, right?

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I’m curious to know–how do you write? Do you have to have a nice clean desk, sharpened pencils and a clean house, or can you plunk down and write whenever the mood strikes you? Do your stories stay with you once you stop writing?

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Just When You Least Expect It…a Yes

I sent out my query for The Goldens with low expectations. I’ve been sending out manuscripts off and on for most of my adult life. I know the rejection rate is high and the process is slow.

And then just when I least expect it…I got a request for the full manuscript. And three days later, I got a YES. Yes, we want to publish your book. Yes, we think it is captivating and unique. 

Being a writer is a tricky deal. It’s matching the right story with the right publisher at the exact right moment. I’ve never written anything like The Goldens. Most of my writing falls squarely into the chick-lit, light and fluffy category. And I finally get noticed for a book about a man who finds himself dead and confused. Go figure.

I don’t have too many details yet, but when I have them, you’ll all be the first to know. And until I do, be sure to check out the opening of The Goldens here.

The Hardest Part of Being a Writer

weird writer

Hello, friends. I missed you last week and I apologize for the lack of blog posts. My novel, The Goldens, is finally at the stage where I can start shopping it around so I spent all my free time last week hammering away at a query letter to send to publishers and agents.

I have, at least in my opinion, reached the hardest part of being a writer. For me, it’s not thinking up new ideas, finding time to write (although I do admit that is a major challenge) or even finishing a piece. The hardest part starts once it’s done.

Because once I’ve finally finished a piece and spent hours finding the right words and the order to put them in, I have to succinctly sum it up in one paragraph and make it sound so appealing in that handful of sentences that someone will actually want to read it. And frankly, I’m terrible at it.

To put it nicely, I’m verbose. To put it other ways, I’m long-winded. No matter how you say it, I don’t do short. So query letters are the bane of my literary existence.

But–thanks to gallons of Pepsi, pounds of animal crackers and the support of someone who has managed to snag that elusive book deal–it’s done. Done and sent off into the world.

Which brings me to the second and third hardest parts of being a writer: the waiting, and the imminent rejection. Because there will be rejection. Hopefully, there will be acceptance as well, but part of this process is growing a thick skin and preparing to hear (what will hopefully be a gentle and kind) “no thank you”. And in the mean time…you just keep writing.

Sharing is caring: what is the hardest part of your job?

Sneak Peek of ‘The Goldens’

Welcome to a sneak peek of The Goldens, my debut novel coming out late 2015. I would love to know what you think!

When David Graff woke up, he was dead. He was surprised at how definitively he knew this. One minute he’d been driving, Billy Joel on the radio. The next minute he was here—although he wasn’t exactly sure where here was—and he was no longer alive.

He surveyed his surroundings. He was in a room, generic but comfortably furnished. There was a bed, a TV, a rocking chair. A window behind a heavy navy curtain did not provide any clues, as it was too dark and foggy to see outside. When David turned back around, a dog was staring at him. It was not a dog he recognized. It looked a little like a collie, but with a little street mutt thrown in. David had never been very good with dog breeds. This particular dog was wearing a fisherman’s vest and regarding him with big brown eyes.

“Hello,” the dog said, and David was not shocked, although he was aware he should have been.

“Hello,” said David. “Who are you?”

“You can call me Barney,” the dog said.

“Where am I, Barney?”

“Heaven.”

David glanced around. “This is heaven?”

“Well, the first steps.”

“I always thought it would be…prettier.” David said.

“I daresay it will be,” said Barney. “Although I don’t know for sure what yours will look like.”

“What mine will look like?”

“Heaven looks different to everyone,” explained the dog. “Suited to their design of perfection. Can you imagine trying to create a place that made everyone happy? Logistical nightmare.” He shook his head. David nodded. This made sense, but something else bothered him.

“What about…I thought there would be people here to greet me.” He shuffled his feet a little, looking down. His mind flashed through images of people he had lost—his mother, uncles and aunts, old friends—and settled on the image of a certain person. “You know, pearly gates and all.”

The dog looked at him kindly.

“You’ll see her soon enough,” he said as if he could read David’s mind. “Her and everyone else.”

“What about God?” David blurted out. If a dog could smile, Barney did.

“He’ll be there, too,” he said.

“So what do I need to do to see them?” David asked. He suddenly felt rushed and anxious. Barney seemed to sense his anxiety.

“It took you a long time to adjust to your life on earth,” he said gently. “Think about it. Nine months in the womb, and years of guidance from your parents. Think of me as your guide to heaven. I’ll show you the ropes before I send you off on your own.”

“But what do I have to do?” David repeated.

“You need to say goodbye to your old life,” Barney said. “It’s imperative for everyone, but especially those like you—who leave unexpected and suddenly.” David thought back to the Billy Joel song. Without realizing it, he sank into the rocking chair and started to sing to himself. “And the piano, it sounds like a carnival, and the microphone smells like a beer…” He paused, and looked up at Barney.

“It was a car accident,” he said. The dog nodded. For the first time since the he got to heaven, David felt sad. Then he realized sad wasn’t even the word for it. An overwhelming, pressing emotion crushed him as he remembered the song, reaching down to turn it up, and looking up just in time to the see lights of the other car swerving into his lane before hitting him head on. He saw himself slumped over in his seat, heard the sirens. Saw the young girl who drove the other car get out, hysterical, on her phone. But David could only think of one thing.

“Gracie,” He whispered. He met the dog’s eyes, and saw his own pain reflected in them.

“You have to let me go back,” David said, jumping up. “You have to let me. I have to see my daughter. I have to say goodbye.” The thought of Grace getting that phone call—it crushed him. The room spun around.

“If this is heaven,” David demanded bitterly, “then why am I so sad?”

“Because you haven’t said goodbye,” Barney said. David didn’t move, his head buried in his hands.

“How am I going to say goodbye?” David asked. “I’m dead.”

“Think back to a time someone you love died,” Barney said. “Like her.” Her face swam in front of his eyes. His Elisabeth. Her big green eyes, hair the color of honey. The first time she laughed, David had been delighted by the huge sound that came out of such a petite woman. He always thought that first, fantastic belly laugh was the moment he decided to marry her. Grace looked like her mother. It stopped David in his tracks sometimes when she walked into the room.

She had barely been two when Elisabeth died—she’d be 35 this year, the same age her mother was when the cancer took her.

“Of course you never get over the death of your wife,” said Barney. “”But it got easier, right?”

“I suppose.”

“Do you know why?”

“Time heals all wounds?” David quipped.

“There’s a little more to it than that,” Barney said. “Leaving the only world you’ve ever known isn’t easy. There is a journey everyone has to take, to say goodbye and make peace with the people they leave behind.”

David thought of Grace and looked up. “Will they know I’ve said goodbye to them?”

“I asked you earlier and you said it got easier, right? That’s because Elisabeth left you a Golden.”

“A Golden?”

“You can help the people you left behind find their peace with your passing. I can show you how. How you’ll get to give those final goodbyes, conversations, things you needed to say. So that when you do enter your ‘pearly gates’, you’ll have no regrets.”

“But will they know?” David pressed.

“Eventually, yes. In their own way. Some people will know right off, depending on the connection they had with you. Most won’t. These moments will get filed away for one day when your loved ones are ready. Maybe it will be something they find, a song they hear on the radio, a prayer, or a dream. But they’ll know.”

“When can I start?”

“Now, if you like.”

“What do I do?”

“Just go through that door.”

“Door?” David looked up and saw a door where a solid wall had stood a moment before. He felt like she should be surprised, but he wasn’t. He glanced back at Barney, who gave him a reassuring nod of the head and settled down on the foot of the bed. David took a deep breath, turned to face the door, and thought of his daughter. —