Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Whatever happened to...
My very first book, gosh, four...? Five years ago? A while ago. It was about a girl in her twenties going "home" to Georgia and meeting her father's side of the family for the first time in years and years. It was part-mystery, part-romance, part-action/adventure, part-outlaw and part-gritty. I was so happy. All this time I'd wanted to write a novel, and I finally had. It was huge - 150k words or thereabouts. It was - when I go back and look at it now - nowhere near up to snuff. But I wasn't worried about that. In those first precious weeks before I began the arduous querying process, I was on cloud nine about finishing that book. After a truly disheartening round of rejections - and it hurts; I don't care who you are or how cynical you are (like me), it hurts so bad, worse than any boy leaving you in the dirt - I nursed my wounds, concentrated on college, my horses, and dabbled in fanfiction. But the trusted few who'd read that first novel kept asking me about it. They really liked it. Sly was sexy, they thought, and Layla was relateable, and the plot was grabbing. (Their words, not mine. I just wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend I'd never written the thing).
When I started blogging, I dusted off the characters from that first novel and wrote a sort of prequel, about Layla's cousin Lisa, and her guy. It was really fun. And then, like I always do, I got discouraged and backed off of it. And when the Walkers slammed into me, I shelved Made for Breaking indefinitely.
I picked it back up a few weeks ago, and to my shock, I stepped right back into the story without a hitch, like I'd been working on it all along. And even scarier, I liked it. Those characters, I realized, are pre-Twitter, pre-blog, pre-discouragement, and pre-second-guessing. They're shadier than the Walkers, morally sound and legally gray. They were straight out of my imagination, from a simpler, braver time, without the taint of "market." Sometimes ideas should be shelved. They weren't strong enough. But is this one of them? Was I way off base, or closer to it than I ever thought? The Russells - and all their devil may care Steve McQueen coolness - are a lot like the heroes dominating the ebook sales right now.
My cousin, a few weeks ago one night at dinner, told me, "Stop saying 'if' and 'maybe' and 'I hope. You ARE a writer. You WILL make this work. No more doubting yourself.'" It was a good little kick in the pants. I have worried, for almost five years, that readers won't like the Russell clan - won't like Sly and Layla - because they felt daring, and I was too scared to be daring.
So I figure...yeah, why not? Made for Breaking is getting a big face lift, and I'm hoping to release it and Remains this summer. Panicking? You bet!