- by Vonna Harper
All right, I’ll say it right up front, that story has been a pisser. I can’t believe that the first time I sent it off, I told the editor (a different one) that it had written itself. Maybe so but the editor couldn’t get a handle on the heroine and said there was too much narrative and not enough action and dialogue. By parts irritated at the editor and myself, I set about doing an intense revision. As a qualifier, this was suppose to be the third in a series so I intimately knew the setting and paranormal elements, or so I thought. The hero, a shapeshifter, had a pivotal role in the two previous stories, thus I believed I knew who he was.
So here’s where things get complicated. By the time I was ready to send the revised story to that editor (okay, this was with Loose-id, the secret’s out), the early numbers were in on the first two novellas in the series. Not good despite covers I loved by a well-respected artist. I’m still scratching my head over why the poor numbers. Shapeshifters are popular and my older Loose-id stories are still selling well. Whatever, it just wasn’t happening. Management decided not to take a chance on #3. In addition, that editor still wasn’t happy with the revised story. I’d already decided to pull the story when I saw the above mentioned numbers so it was a mutual split for all involved parties.
Plan B, try to interest my longtime publisher Ellora’s Cave/Jasmine Jade in it. My longtime editor there had just quit and I’m been assigned a new one. Nervous time. I was determined to make my first submission to her the best it could be–not that I don’t always. I’d had some breathing time and had distanced myself from the story so came at it with fresh eyes. First, I needed to weed out any reference to the linked stories Loose-id had published. Then I decided I had to explain, or at least explain the reasons for the shapeshifting. Putting logic to paranormal ain’t easy folks. But in one of those lightbulb while in the shower moments I found what I needed. I was also determined to pump movement and energy into the story, to cut down on my beloved ‘telling’ and jump with two feet into ‘showing.”
Huh, shouldn’t that already be second nature to me? I’ve been writing since the stone age with more than 40 books under my belt. I know how to show, I just hadn’t been doing enough with this story.
So here we are, the story’s in my editor’s hands and I’m itching to get onto the latest idea keeping me awake. But I’m here to tell you that I’ve resigned myself to never getting to the end of this learning curve. Some books are good friends during the writing process while others (see above) fight me every inch of the way. I accept it. I just don’t like it. But what’s a gal to do?
Therefore, if I have one piece of advice for new writers it is, be tough because its a tough career. You’ll always be a student–and your own teacher.