Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Relief (and a Winner!)

First off, big congrats to the winner of my Fashion Find Challenge!
Angi Griffis 
Angi gets to lay claim to all those awesome books, and her entry from Sunday was the one selected.
Now on with today. Or, er, I guess I'm talking about yesterday, LOL. See, it was a big day for me. Not because I spent the day painting our old house to get it ready for the tenant moving in tomorrow. Not because that earned me blisters all over my hands that even made it hurt to hold my spoon to eat ice cream (but I persevered. Just so you know. I didn't give up on that chocolate cookies 'n' cream!). That was all pretty big. But what really made my day was that my mom finished reading A Soft Breath of Wind and my hubby (whose birthday is today!) finished reading The Lost Heiress.

Now, I've had two critique partners and my hubby read A Soft Breath of Wind already, but my mom is the first to read it after I cut a POV that those first readers all agreed was superfluous. And while I haven't had a chance to drill Mom on whether she ever felt like anything was missing (because I'm not totally sure I put back in some of the details I also deleted that I meant to reinsert, LOL), I figure it must have turned out okay, since Mom declared that this may just be her favorite--which is saying something, because though Mom has always loved all my books, nothing has thus far been able to steal that particular title from A Stray Drop of Blood. I love that its sequel has succeeded!

I talked to my mom on the phone yesterday in the mid-afternoon, at which point she was 86% done. But I didn't dwell on her finishing up too much, given that I was cleaning upholstery, painting, cleaning the kitchen, painting, trying to unclog the bathroom sink, painting... I had brain power only for "why is this stupid paint not covering?? Why did we not buy good paint?!" (which we then did, and oh the difference it made!) So when I got a message from her on Facebook last night, it was almost a surprise. An "Oh! Right. She was reading..." A very pleasant one.

My hubby David finished The Lost Heiress in the morning before we got to work, and I had totally spaced that--though he's the first to finish it, and I was pretty anxious for his opinion. When we were getting ready to go to sleep last night, he said, "This is your best version of this book yet." Keeping in mind that he's read at least three versions. Perhaps more.
Diane Kruger is a pretty good match for Brook
photo by Nicolas Genin via Wikimedia

To which I replied, "Well that's a good thing, given that it's the one I sold." LOL. He went on to add the icing to the cake by saying how I captured such depth, that all my characters were so well portrayed this time. That I really nailed Brook by making her more obviously French (or rather, Monegasque), that Justin is great with the extra moodiness, that Brice was so great this time around, and that giving her a father and taking out her uncles was spot-on for the story.

There's joy in hearing something like that--and there's relief. I can't speak for all writers, but I can tell you that I'm always anxious when I finish a book, before I hear back from my first readers on what works and what didn't. My instincts are usually decent with this sort of thing, but I'm too close to really know if "It feels strong" equals "it is strong."

Sometimes the two halves of a writer's life--the real world of cleaning and cooking and caring for kids, of remodeling old houses and waiting for test results on a little one's blood work; and the writer's world of characters and plot development and deadlines--clash. But sometimes they line up pretty well. June has thus far been a month of hard work. Trimming words from a manuscript, hauling junk from an old house. Yesterday was a day of good report on my two next books and on the progress at the house.

None of it is perfect. I still have cleaning out and moving around to do today in the physical world. I still have some tweaks to make to the manuscripts, some editing, some trimming. But it's always such a relief to know I'm on the right track!


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