So, I traveled for work last week. I drove to the airport, flew to DFW, and took a 20-minute taxi ride to my hotel to go to a conference on licensing. Trademark licensing and editing are my day jobs at Arkansas Tech University, and I love them almost as much as I love writing. The conference allowed me to connect with a group of like-minded people I could chat with about issues we all experience in our roles as licensing directors.
My travel experience was pleasant. I don’t mind flying at all. In fact, I kind of love traveling occasionally. I enjoy people-watching in the airport. My flight was on time, and I finally had some uninterrupted time to read. I started reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I like the way it is told from three different characters’ points of view in first-person. Of course, I did watch the movie a couple of weeks ago so I know what’s going to happen for the most part. I figured the book would be better than the movie, which is almost always the case.
Reading the book is making me rethink how I want to write Jordan’s Sister. I have three characters whose heads I need to get into to tell my story. My original notes were first-person, then I wrote some in third-person omniscient. I am struggling with the narrative mainly because narrative comes more naturally to me in first-person, but first-person is not right for my story. Hawkins’ style works for her story, but it’s not right for my story either. (I have considered that style.) For now, I plan to rewrite in third-person limited. What’s the difference? The characters helping tell the story don’t know everything.
I arrived for the conference the night before it began, on a Monday evening, so I ordered room service to relax before the long day ahead of me on Tuesday. While there, I typed out some of my general outline and more dialogue for Jordan’s Sister. Dialogue is my strength. It’s one of the aspects of Caroline’s Lighthouse I am most proud of. But I can’t make a novel out of conversations alone, which is pretty much all I have outlined so far for Jordan’s Sister. That will soon change because of #NaNoWriMo. What is it? It’s National Novel Writing Month, which runs from November 1-30. I learned about it through Twitter (I am @caniscareyou) and decided to take the challenge to write a 50,000+ novel during the month of November. Sounds crazy, but it is entirely possible if you have characters and plot in mind as well as a good outline, all of which I have. Plus, it is not meant to be a finished product complete with editing. That takes more time, especially when you have day jobs and a family.
Something awesome happened in addition to meeting wonderful people at the conference. My poem, “Scars” was published by Spillwords, a writing website that has a significant presence in the writing network I have been following on Twitter. Spillwords has been tweeting out links to my poem on their website throughout this week, which has resulted in more hits to my blog and more Twitter followers. It’s the best kind of advertising to get my writing to new and returning readers. Plus, the illustration Spillwords used is perfect. I love the vibrant red.
In other news, I received my layout and cover proofs for Caroline’s Lighthouse! I took a vacation day yesterday to scour the manuscript as it will appear in print to catch any remaining typos or other issues. I had already found a few things I want to change that I’d caught in rereading the story in prep for the proof, which I knew would arrive this week. I have reread this story so many times I feel like I could recite most of it. What makes me the most apprehensive is that one of the few critical errors I’ve found so far has been in the novel from the first rewritten draft through all of my test readers, editing software, and my own readings. When I found the error, it seemed to jump off the page, and I immediately broke out in a cold sweat. I couldn’t believe I had missed it so many times. It is much easier for me to catch errors in documents I didn’t write. But, in reality, I can’t afford professional editing services at this time. I get up to 50 author corrections and unlimited publisher error corrections. As of late last night, I had 32 author corrections. Around 5 were critical and the remaining ones were silly things that probably only I (or an English teacher) would notice such as a missing comma or hyphen.
I am extremely excited about what’s to come with Caroline’s Lighthouse. I feel it in my chest, similar to the feeling I get being outside in crisp autumn air with the fresh scent of the falling leaves and the sounds of them crunching beneath my feet. It feels like the start of a new beginning and it’s my favorite season with my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. I realize most people associate a new beginning with spring, but as I’ve mentioned before—I’m not normal. It represents a dream coming true for me. Will it be a best-seller? I don’t know, but it could be. Will there ever be a movie based on it? Again, I don’t know, but there could be. A year ago, neither of those things were possible because the story wasn’t out there for people to read. Now, the possibilities are endless. Am I a failure if it isn’t a best-seller or coveted by Hollywood? Absolutely not. The main dream was getting to hold my book in my hands.
Archway Publishing has been great to work with for my first novel publication. Unfortunately (or fortunately, who knows?) I can’t use them for Jordan’s Sister. Archway has strict content guidelines and will not allow manuscripts containing sex or drugs. My story has both. I ultimately decided not to self-sensor. I’m not trying to write Fifty Shades of Grey, which is total crap in my opinion because of the poor writing, not necessarily because of the content. I couldn’t get past the preview because I thought the writing was so awful. In my network of fellow writers on Twitter, and some I have met in real life, I am researching different publishing options. It will be good to have a plan when I have a polished final manuscript. I’m not in a hurry. Sometime before the end of 2017 is the end goal I have in mind. Due to proofing Caroline’s Lighthouse, I am behind on my word count goals for #NaNoWriMo. For now, I have left Taylor and Layne sitting beside the ocean. I already know where they’re going next. I just have to put it in words.
-Brandi Easterling Collins