The Weird World of Writers

Today is October 31st, Halloween, a wonderful day for Americans. Children of all ages dress in bizarre costumes, roast marshmallows and hot dogs, down enough candy to rot a thousand teeth and generally have a good time.

Halloween presages Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving presages Christmas.

But this year, Halloween presages something new and exciting in my life, the launch of BONES ALONG THE HILL, a romantic suspense novel written by me and published by the Boroughs Publishing Group.

BONES launches on November 18th. I will post links when I have them and invite all of you to read it because that’s what authors do and also because I think it’s a fine novel, well-written and full of interesting people. So interesting, I sometimes pine for their company even though months have elapsed since my editor, Camille Hahn and I agreed with a single nod that BONES was ready to go out into the wide world.

Writing is a strange affair. I spend hours communing with people who don’t exist in situations I create, playing like a cat with my little mice who, like real mice, try to run in directions I don’t like and are sometimes successful in wresting control of the effort into their non-existent paws. I don’t know how they do it; neither does anyone else.

But I digress.

Perhaps the strangest part of writing is marketing. I write a novel (82,000 words). It takes forever. My writing buddies read it. They point out horrors. I revise. They read it; I revise. Repeat ad nauseam. Finally, we either all agree it’s ready or we give up and it goes out into the wide world of agents and editors.

This begins the process designed to destroy my ego so I can become a better person. I know that’s the case because that much pain must have a reason. I send out the manuscript to ten agents. Five of them don’t respond at all, four respond with “not for us,” a phrase created specifically because it says nothing and helps no one. One of the ten sends a nice note that gives me an idea of why it isn’t for her. For a long time during the sending out process, I live for these why emails, suck them in like a desiccated turtle in need of water.

The sending out process is sometimes interrupted so the revising process can resume. This happens when an agent or editor gives me enough feedback so I figure a way to make the book better. The revising process can take a day or can extend for months. Depends on how badly my ego is bruised at the moment.

Then one day someone responds to my query with “I love this book.” For several hours, I sit in stupefaction, my battered writer’s mind unable to absorb the words that should be “not for us.”

I wish I could say that after the initial numbness, I became hysterically excited, but in fact I did not. I became incredibly relieved. I was no longer an “aspiring author,” an “unpublished writer,” someone who said she could write but could not prove it. I was to have an ISBN, proof positive that someone somewhere cared enough about my novel to publish it.

As I said, the novel will debut on November 18th. I am excited. I am terrified. I am looking forward to that day while at the same time trying to hold the seconds back.

Meanwhile, I’m working on another novel with nary a tremble over the ensuing marketing process. All I can figure is it’s like having babies. After a while, we forget the pain.

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