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Recently, I received some feedback on my latest novel (Count Down to Love). First, the editor complemented me on my characters and dialogue, which was nice, but then she went on to categorizing me as the kind of author who tends to “tell” instead of “show.” Now I will admit that I did incorporate the occasional flashback and introspective, some of which I agree needs to be reworked, but when did it become a crime to write a novel with a nice balance of dialogue and narration. And it wasn’t as if I didn’t know what I was doing when I wrote the offensive telling. If my dialogue was “enjoyable” and my characters “interesting” then obviously I know how to “show.” I wasn’t suffering from some sort of multiple personality writing disorder that caused my writing style to shift from showing to telling and then back again without my knowledge.

But then if such a disorder did exist maybe psychotherapists could come up with a Cognitive Therapy to treat it? Something like an annoying alarm that sounds whenever an author writes a paragraph containing more than four sentences, followed by a voice reminding the writer that it’s best to dial-down the narration—more people will read the book if the author uses fewer words. The goal of the therapy being that, over time, the author is able to move past the “irrational” idea that good literature is about plot and characterization. And instead, adopt the “rational” idea that the pace in which a reader can sprint to the last page determines the value of the work.

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Jul

28

2010

How Many Frogs?

After a year of writing in the wee hours of the morning, the darkest hours of the night and any space of time I could steal between composing and recording the song that goes with the book, working, home schooling, cooking, gardening, church and so on, I finally finished my third novel – Who I Am.

And so now it’s time to dust off my “rubber suit” and start submitting – again. After re-writing, proofreading, editing, formatting, etc, my manuscript is all spiffy and ready to be published. As I started to assemble my list of prospective publishers and agents I looked it over and wondered, how many queries will it take before I finally find the right agent and/or publisher. How many rejections will I have to endure before I stumble upon the person/publisher who will be willing to represent my work?

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Feb

22

2010

Goin’ Country

About a year after moving to Nashville I awoke from a dream one morning with an idea for a novel. The story would be about a washed up country star named Kelly Grace Pickens who is ditched at the alter and ends up on a reality TV show akin to the Bachelor. And to sweeten the plot, I’d have her writing a song that develops as the story unfolds.

The only problem: how can a person who doesn’t even listen to country music write about a country singer, much less come up with the lyrics to a country song?

She can’t, that’s how.

You see I was raised on rock-n-roll—Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, The Cure . . . a true music lover, always believing that nothing spoke volumes to the soul like a well-written song. However, for the sake of my story I would abandon my rock-n-roll roots and turn my car stereo to one of Nashville’s many country stations. Okay so now I was listening to songs about drinking, hooking up, eight-second rides and big green tractors. And I might be reading too much into his song, but is Jason Aldean singing about an actual piece of farm equipment or is his “tractor” really a metaphor for something else? I’m just sayin’ is all.

Needless to say, it wasn’t too long before I was reminded of my teenaged years and how grownups often warned us kids not to listen to rock music because the lyrics would undoubtedly lead us straight to hell. And wondering how country music had managed to fly under the moral radar all those years?

But as I continued my research into the genre of country music, I soon found that most of the songs were about love, family, and forgiveness—downright heart trending material.

Try as I might, after a month or so of paying close attention to the themes and structure of the songs, the fact still remained—I was just not a music writer. A simple solution to my dilemma would have been to change Kelly’s character but I seem to have an inexplicable aversion to taking the easy road. So in order to create something resembling a country ballad, I turned to a couple of singer/song writer friends, Brad Hull from the country band, Due West, and Aaron McBride.

A few weeks later I was sitting in my living room across from two scruffy boot wearing, guitar-toting men, and as long as I kept the kettle corn and jellybeans coming, they were happy to just hang out bouncing tunes and lyrics off each other. Watching them work, and the way the music flowed naturally from their minds to their fingertips, was truly magical. It was kind of how narration and dialogue sometimes flow effortlessly through me as if being sent from a special place I have yet to discover—like my own little miracle. Only with these guys, the process looked way cooler. And when they allowed me to write a line or two, the whole experience got even better.

Of all the works I’ve had a hand in creating, I think I’m most proud of the song, Who I Am. This experience was likely my first, and last, delve into writing lyrics, but I will carry the memory, and the knowledge that I helped create a real-live song, with me for the rest of my life.

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It has finally happened!

As evidence by the fact that I received a rejection letter in the mail this week, and subsequently experienced no amount of self-wallowing, I have officially deemed myself the possessor of a thick skin.

In other words, I have reached the pinnacle of unpublished authordom.

Further evidence came in the form an email Saturday morning from a publisher that I had queried some time ago. Before even opening the correspondence I went straight to the notebook where I record my manuscript submissions and promptly scratched this publisher’s name from the list. Boy was I surprised when I opened the email and it was not denying my submission, but accepting it.

Hummm . . . what to do now? I mean, it should be obvious, take the offer, but now that I have become duly comfortable with my station at the most southern tip of the literary food chain, do I really want to mix it up by starting over at the bottom of another?

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Dec

21

2009

2nd Day Air

Last week I was at a church Christmas party and the topic of discussion turned, as it often does, to the apparent travesty of the commercialization of this sacred holiday and what we could do in our own families to bring Christ back into Christmas. Of course the first consensus was to stop shopping/buying as much. The only problem with this is that we live in an economy that is driven by our insatiable appetite to consume. In America shopping less, while prudent, would only wreak more havoc on our struggling economy. Plus, being the owner of a UPS Store, I wanted to yell, No, I have a better idea: procrastinate your shopping, then buy more than you need, and ship it all out of State . . . 2Day Air!

Then, there was an idea to limit the amount of gifts to three: one being something the child wants, another something he/she needs, and third a gift of time. In addition, there were the usual suggestions of service in the place of presents, giving up a gift for a needy child, and so on.

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