I love exploring bioethics, and this book allowed me to consider end-of-life issues, patient rights, a compassionate response to HIV-AIDS…lots of edutainment.
Once I have a germ idea, I come up with the beginning, middle, and end. Then I figure out the in-between points. Next, I create the main characters. I have four pages of questions I answer for each. About thirty percent of novel-crafting for me is the pre-writing imaginative work on the plot and character sketches. Then I choose a setting. I ask myself how I can use setting to communicate something. Where was Jezebel when she stole the vineyard? In Jezreel. Where was she years later when dogs ate her? Jezreel. The setting tells more than a place. It says something about the character of God. So I try to choose a setting that communicates on a deeper level. All the time I’m making these choices, I deliberate about the best way to tell the story. First-person? Third-person? Who will be the main POV character? Why?After that I craft a proposal. It starts with a one-paragraph synopsis. While my agent shops it around, I develop the summary into a chapter-by-chapter outline. And then I make a file for each chapter and start dumping in ideas.When my agent has some success, he calls.
He or she takes it to the marketing meeting
I wait forever for that meeting to happen
Marketing approves it
I wait for them to agree on an offer
They issue an offer
I reel from the shock of how low it is
I wait for them to draw up the contract
I receive and sign the contract
I write the book
I send the book to the publisher.
They send the first half of the advance
I spend it all in one place
I wait for them to edit it
I wait a while longer for them to edit it
They send back the manuscript with lots of changes needed immediately
I edit it again
They send a galley proof, which they need back immediately
I edit it yet again
I watch helplessly as the release date gets delayed–again
I wait forever for my progeny to arrive in the mail
Finally, I hold my masterpiece in my hands
I find a typo
I love it when the muse flows and I lose myself in the world of my characters. Three hours later I’ll look at the clock and marvel at how time has flown. It’s like going to a good movie and seeing a story you don’t want to end.
I loathe the page-proof stage, where I get the stack of questions or suggested changes from the publisher. I don’t mind the feedback—it’s always been great. But actually making the changes…talk about tedium.
After I graduated from college, I worked for a 700-employee financial services company where my boss thought I had some writing talent. I got my start twenty years ago working as the editor of employee publications. When the company sold, everybody got laid off. I mourned over leaving a job I loved, but it was the best thing ever for my career. Suddenly I had 700 business contacts all over Dallas.I started a free-lance writing business, and one of my first clients was the music producer for Barney and Friends. Another client was Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). I edited (and still edit) their magazine, Kindred Spirit. I dabbled in some classes in DTS’s media arts program, and I learned about Joseph Campbell and myth and about Hebrew narrative and Gospel storytelling. I figured if I could tell better stories, I’d write more engaging non-fiction. I had no aspirations ever to write a book, certainly not a novel!
Television, Wired Magazine, headlines, internet, overheard conversations, personal angst. You name it.
Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Chocolate gets better with age (mine). (So does Advil, but it’s not a dessert.)