Around the Block
Posted by Kate Parker Jul 30 2013, 12:41 am
True confession time. I’m old enough to be the mother of most of our Rubies. But with age comes wisdom, and the knowledge that crooked paths can lead to publication.
I began with Romantic Suspense, switched to Historical Romance, and now write Romantic Historical Mysteries. My biggest revelation was I can’t write past chapter five without murdering someone. Second biggest? The tension created between a rigid society and a heroine who chafes against its restrictions is powerful. Cases in point? Philippa Gregory’s novels and the Hunger Games.
My critique partner, Hannah Meredith, is my equal in wisdom. She published Science Fiction and Fantasy as Meredith Simmons, but then decided to switch genres and now writes Historical Romance. Definitely a jump, but what wonderful Historical Romance she’s created. I’d guess the historical world building, with real history as the backdrop for her lovers, comes from her science fiction background. The heat comes from deep psychological insights born of years of experience and fabulous writing talent honed during years of practice.
And the help of her critique partner.
Hannah here, and while Kate is being very complimentary, the part about help from my critique partner is true. Kate has been an invaluable resource in improving my writing. I hope she can say the same. We are a rather odd pair of old broads, eh, wise women. Kate is a very spare writer and I tend toward wordiness. Kate is wonderful with action scenes and I love to wallow in the internal. Yet, somehow, this partnership has worked well.
Kate again. Our difference in writing style, and our similar dogged determination to tell good stories well, creates a dynamic that makes our critique experience improve us both as storytellers.
Hannah just mastered the skills needed to self-publish her first novella, Kestrel. I’ve already bought it to see how her editors and formatters did, and I’m impressed at the quality. Hannah’s experience as a businesswoman has obviously taught her to hire good craftsmen.
Oh, I love the phrase, “mastered the skills.” Don’t I wish! But I’m learning a lot and have come to appreciate all the steps a publisher has to go through. There have been a number of bumps in the road—I’m probably one of the few indie writers who’s had her formatter fire her—and I’ve had ample opportunity to exercise my rather extensive vocabulary of naughty words, but having Kestrel available in both e-book and print is a heady experience.
I’d already read the story of a husband’s betrayal and redemption and a wife’s growth from subservient to being her own woman. Rereading Kestrel on my Nook? Thrilling.
I’m so excited for Hannah. There’s a satisfaction that comes from succeeding at writing after the years of child raising and corporate survival are done that makes publication so much sweeter.
Later this year, she’ll publish the full-length novels A Dangerous Indiscretion and Indentured Hearts. Even though I’ve read them already to critique them, they’re going into my Nook to enjoy again. They’re that good. Like some of the Rubies, New York didn’t tumble into the strength of her stories, and now they’ve lost out. But readers everywhere are the gainers.
Again, Kate is being kind. She didn’t mention that I never quite mastered the synopsis and pitch part of romance submission. I was too used to SF&F Short Fiction submissions where you send a cover letter listing previous sales and awards, attach the story, and that’s it. With the last synopsis I attempted, upon reading it, Kate quickly shot back an email that said DO NOT submit this until we do SOMETHING with it. Well, a good critique partner can only do so much…
I finally decided that what I wanted to do was simply tell stories, and I’ve taken the route to that goal that works best for me. Kate has taken the more traditional path. The first book of her Victorian Bookshop Mystery series, The Vanishing Thief, will be available from Berkley Prime Crime this December. And of course I’ve read it—and it’s really good.
So, both of us are having an exciting 2013. Made all the sweeter by being around A LOT of blocks on the way.
Thanks for stopping by, Hannah, and good luck with Kestrel. No wonder they call these the “golden years.” Maybe that’s just shorthand for “succeeding at what we were called to do.”