Since I turned in a book nearly two weeks ago and am almost ready to buckle down on finishing the next one, I have been plotting new stories. This writing business overlaps itself and could make the sanest person’s eye twitch. While I’m working on one story, I need to have one or two others under consideration on an editor’s desk. Also while working on a story, I get edits and author alterations for a previous one. By the time a book is actually in stores, I’ve usually written one or two more, plotted a couple, and worked on cover art information. So, while I have a book on the shelves right now, I have to go back and remind myself what it’s about to promote it. LOL Or read it if I’m asked to join a reader’s group for discussion! Don’t laugh.
My friend Bernadette has been my critique partner practically ever since we joined RWA the same year in 1988. She remembers everything about every story anyone writes and can keep it all straight. She scares me. I scare myself. I read or critique for another person and forget what the story was about within a couple of weeks. I justify that by saying I simply have too much on my mind to retain it all. Don’t blow my comfort level by disagreeing.
On Friday night I served lemonade cake and tossed out the spin-off character I wanted to use. I needed a hero. (You’re singing now, right?) We often use Pam McCutcheon’s brainstorming cards because they give us themes and traits for a starting point. I’m not sure how this hero developed, but I’m loving him! He’s an ex-bounty hunter out to settle down and find a community and a husband for his younger sister. He’s on a train bound for a peaceful town in the Colorado Territory when the train is held up. My heroine expects him to do something…. When the smoke clears, the town’s new hero is recuperating from a bullet wound at her family’s home. This is going to be so much fun. I don’t have a working title yet.
It’s serious business, this critique group thing. You don’t invite anyone who isn’t compatible. You have to respect the people who are going to offer comments on your work. For me it has nothing to do with published or unpublished; it has to do with work ethic, knowledge or willingness to learn, and enthusiasm. And another creative brain ain’t nothin’ to turn up your nose at. I love my other brains during the brainstorming process—or when I’m stuck. Sure, I come up with the ideas on my own, and I put the pieces together and make all the decisions and write the story, but I only have one brain and one life experience. Getting feedback from other writers who have different perspectives and who understand the process of story writing make their contributions invaluable.
THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS is in stores now.