Sunday, November 21, 2010

First Round with my New Mentor

This is my first blog week since I had the awesome huge news that THE SOLDIER won romantic suspense writer Brenda Novak's mentoring contest. She's published forty novels - many, many bestsellers - and she's going to read mine, three chapters at a time, and guide me through the fixes. Last night Miss Bossy Boots and I read stories with fairy godmother-equivalents from Germany, China, and Russia. It seems like I've found a real one from Sacramento.

I've had one wonderful phone call already and received Brenda's initial feedback to incorporate into my Golden Heart entry. For lots of people Thanksgiving means turkey, cranberry and relatives. For unpublished romance writers, it also means hurry and mail that entry to Texas. Run to Kinko's, check the collating of each packet, put on those clippies, count everything one more time, and then hit the FedEx desk.

Brenda suggested including more internal thought, especially from my hero, which is extremely hard for me. I'm not a very introspective person in my own life, so pulling thoughts out of the deep hearts of my characters is a big reach. Also, she hopes for a stronger sense of place because I've nailed the Army stuff but I should pump up the Afghanistan setting. On rereading my pages, I completely agree. Fifty pages with one reference to heat, two to mountains, and one to dust. Realistically dust should be on every page. Dust should fall out of the manuscript into readers' laps, Afghanistan as a 4-D Imax movie. But I'll look for a happy medium with respect to sand and dust. Third, Brenda suggested I be more specific about the passage of time between or during scenes. Right again. The challenge for me is to add specificity without constantly writing "Three hours later" or "The next day." When I have a challenge like that, I randomly pull a bunch of books off the shelf and look at chapter and scene transitions and try to learn from the greats.

I can do this. I am doing this, last night and tonight as soon as I finish this blog. (Legal stuff: Photo of Marines in Afghanistan by Lance Cpl Brian D. Jones. See more great photos at this Flickr photostream.) Side note: It is snowing in Seattle! Right now, out my window. Talk about distraction!


Kate Diamond said...

CONGRATULATIONS, a million times over! I meant to email you and then the week just got away from me.

I am so excited for you, and so excited to read about all of your mentoring experiences.

Anna Richland said...

Thanks, Kate. Not only is Brenda mentoring my writing, but she's inspiring me to new heights of computer skills. I linked our blog to my facebook page - thank you, Mr. Richland, for talking me through it.

EilisFlynn said...

It's an exciting opportunity, and I know you'll do grand things with it! Good luck!

Julia Hunter said...

I really enjoyed meeting Brenda at the Emerald City Writers Conference and was wowed by her great spirit, and am so glad that you won her mentor contest, Anna.

Thank you for sharing some of the tips with us - transitions are on my list of things to fix too. :)