Hello All, on this rainy Sunday here in the Midwest. The two-year drought has ended with waterlogged soil. Forecasters predict two sunny days this week, so while farmers plow, I’ll weed the shrub garden. Before doing that, however, I’d like to share three things about my writing life.
In March, I read the draft of the Bronze-Age Greece manuscript Three Roads Diverged, which I began to write back in 1994 after a three-week trip to Greece, financed by my earning from A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story. This draft used up nearly 70, 000 words and yet represented only a third of the story. Given that, a completed first draft might comprise 210,000 words. That’s twice as long as most presses want to publish for a first-time novelist.
Considering that, I’ve decided to write three shorter books. By this time next year, I hope to have completed the ending to Book 1 and to have edited, rewritten, and polished it.
A 1996 photograph of my cousin Mary Ann (right)
and myself by the flower garden
behind my home in Stillwater, Minnesota.
Note the T-shirt I’m wearing.
I’ve completed Book 1 of a cat-fantasy trilogy and have half of both Book 2 and Book 3 done. Fortunately, Judy King—the gifted artist who captured Dulcy’s sweetness in A Cat’s Life—had the time to do the art for Book 1. Each of the seventeen pencil sketches she sent me yesterday displays her creative wit. And the cover she’s designed is as inviting as the one she did for A Cat’s Life.
Last week, Judy Healey, the twice-published historical novelist and friend who is reading The Reluctant Spy, sent me an e-mail that made my day. As I’ve explained before, I started the Palestine novel thirteen years ago and Judy read an early draft. After reading the first few chapters of the present draft, here’s what she had to say:
At long last I'm reading your book...about 40 pages in.
It is very engaging and I'm hooked. It is slow going because I am making notes on pages . . . all pretty minor stuff. But the writing is very good and I think the book has improved 100% from an earlier version I read some years ago.
I'm going to do the first 100 pages and mail them to you. At the end I'll also have a short memo on overview stuff. . . . It will be into next week when I mail the first set. But congratulations.
We can talk publishing strategies later. Love, Judy
You can appreciate why I’m pleased. Judy is an accomplished historical novelist. If she sees some worth to this draft then I’m content that I’m growing as a writer. That doesn’t mean of course that any agent will want to represent it or any publisher publish it. However, the fact that Judy praises it helps me know that my writing does have some merit.
For most of my adult life, I’ve considered myself a hack. My writing seemed so prosaic next to the writers I read. To my surprise, many of you have complimented my writing as seen in my on-line memoir blog. So because of you, I’ve stopped comparing myself to the fine writers I read and simply accepted that I am a storyteller and that my stories speak to others. I thank you all for this gift you’ve given me. Peace.