Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Best Laid Plans...by Anna J Stewart

Ah, the wonderful world of being a published author. I'm sure most people (outside the writing industry) think we authors live "the life". But of course here's the truth: there're the hours spent pounding (nay slamming) our fingers against they keyboard as we try to mold our characters into compliance (they never listen). The intricate rainbow of Post-It notes that stretch from one side of the room to the other and at times end up taped to our backsides (don't ask). The streaks of highlighter or black pen marring our skin like literary tattoos that only come off with a loofa mit of death. And the 2 o'clock in the morning brain blip that wakes you up when that plot point FINALLY clicks.

There's also the bright side of a glowing review when a reader "gets" what you were trying to do and the encouragement of your fellow authors and editors (Heartwarming authors, editors, and readers rock, by the way). But nothing compares to the sentence I heard from my editor a week before RWA National about my book that's due on September 15th. A sentence I know so many authors have heard over the years:

"We're going to need you to change the plot."

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Don't get me wrong. She said it in a very nice tone with that underlying "I know what I'm asking you to do". I'd heard of things like this happening. I just didn't expect it to happen to me so soon! The conversation went on (I think--I don't really remember, LOL) and we made plans to discuss possible changes when we met in NYC. It won't be a big deal, she assured me. We'll make it work. Of course as I went back later that day to work on a different project (I'm writing 3 at the same time), there wasn't any concentrating or focus to be found.  I'd have to ditch about 100 pages (of a 270 page book) and figure out some other plot that could encompass the town and characters and potential growth of the series. Figure out the conflict, rearrange other town happenings...OMG. I can't do this! 

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The pressure mounted...until it popped! As I read over the now useless outline I'd written I realized everything was going to be okay....because this was an opportunity! And despite my panic, I had time. Even better, I had an idea!

You see, the original plot idea (that included a renovation, a bet, and the purchase of property--my fellow Heartwarming authors are laughing at me right now), had been weighing on me to the point of wondering how I was going to pull it all off. But now the floodgates of possibilities opened. My characters were fine, they just needed a bit of a tweak, or rather, my hero did since my heroine owns an inn that isn't going anywhere.  He needs a new profession, something that hadn't been done...doable, right? Right.  Now, as I wrap up the other two projects, I'm anxious to get going on FLUTTERBY DREAMS, book 2 in the Butterfly Harbor series. I'll get to play around with one of my favorite past-times/hobbies and incorporate it into the story (shhhh....it's still in the planning stages) and in the end, I'll have an even better book than the one I'd originally planed.

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So the lesson learned? This business is crazy. It can turn on a dime, in a variety of ways at any time and we roll with the punches. In some instances, even manage to find the glamour within the situation: maybe even incorporate an evening gown or two (can I wear my flip-flops?).  Or in the words of one of my heroes, Dory from FINDING NEMO, I'll just keep swimming!

Happy reading, everyone!
~Anna J

A geek at heart,  USA Today and national bestselling author Anna J Stewart writes "refreshingly unique, quietly humorous, and profoundly moving romance" (RT Book Reviews) for Harlequin and Berkley. Visit her online at www.authorannastewart.com and make sure to sign up for her news only newsletter...she gives away a surprise gift box to one lucky subscriber in each issue!




















33 comments:

  1. Anna - been there over and over! I never get it right the first time. And I'll bet many of our HH buddies are right there with us. I think you have the best attitude for long-range success. You're allowed the initial horror we all feel, but then you have to get in there, figure out how to make the desired changes work remembering that everyone involved wants what's best for the book, and everything improves with more thought and attention - not to mention the blood, sweat, and tears. And it's only Aug. 5th. Sept. 1 is almost four weeks away. Piece of cake. (You're going to need chocolate!)

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    1. Thank, Muriel. :) Yeah, I kind of feel like this is baptism by fire. Might as well get used to this happening now . Thanks for the encouragement! And the chocolate suggestion. I'm gonna need it for sure!! <3

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  2. Anna--ditto what Muriel said. But knowing someone else has had it happen isn't a big help. What is a help is your editor who believes in you, and the fact your own brain is working on it. You have the base, you have the characters. You have writing talent. And of course I hope you have wine and chocolate. And take another look at that last baby you posted. That kid's got the "I-can-do-it attitude".

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    1. Thanks, Roz. Nice to have such a great support system with all my heartwarming peeps. Esp since I know you all understand!! I know where to come when the chocolate runs out and the panic sets in again, LOL. Thanks for posting!

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  3. Your pictures tell the story. From surprise to depression to I can do it all. I agree with Roz. Your editor believes in you and that’s paramount.

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    1. <3 Marion! It's like a special kind of grieving process only other writers understand, right? :) Thanks for stopping by! Can't wait to see you next year in SD!

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  4. Anna, thank you for making me laugh out loud this morning. I'm not laughing at you, of course, but with you. This helps me so much because I often have visions of fellow authors just typing away--smiling and ah-ha-ing at the ease in which the words flow while I struggle and pace and claw at my scalp. I had to make a plot change in book 2 and while challenging it really did make the story so much better. The comments above pretty much say it all--that's a lot of experience reassuring us.

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    1. Hi Carol! Happy to provide you with some cheer this morning. :) And yep, totally agree with the comments. You guys rock! Thanks for posting!

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  5. I so enjoyed reading this post, Anna. Of course, I don't enjoy the difficulty you face, but those pictures, inserted at just the right moment, were terrific. I suppose we have to laugh at these kind of curve balls. You can do it!

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    1. Thanks, Jill! Yep, this is one of those "just keep swimming" moments for sure. A great support system helps, that's for sure. Thanks for dropping by today! :)

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  6. Great post Anna. See how things work out! Happy writing.

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  7. Loved this post, Anna! Your pictures were so appropriate and had me LOL! :) I'm with you. I had to rewrite HARPER'S WISH about four times before my editor said I'd nailed it. Four times, rewriting everything from chapter 3 on. It's not always fun. But it does pay off, and I know your story will, too. At least we writers can commiserate together! :)

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    1. 4 times?! OMG, I'm feeling very fortunate right now, Cerella. At least they caught me early, LOL. I bet you were glad to write the end to that one for the last time. :) Thanks for stopping by today.

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    2. Anna, it was a rough go, but the words "I'm impressed" from my editor never sounded so sweet! And the story was much, much stronger after all that. But I feel your pain! A writer's life can be challenging at times! :)
      Jill, my thoughts exactly! LOL!

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  8. What a scary conversation. But you have a great attitude, and hilarious pictures. I'm looking forward to the final product.

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  9. I most identify with the crying baby, nuff said.

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    1. LOL, Pamela--I bet a lot of us can. I thought he was rather appropriate

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  10. Oh, Anna. My heart is hurting for you. I absolutely hate plotting. Did you forget the anger phase of grief? I always have to go through that part too before I see the full wisdom of what has to be done. Still, ALL things are fixable. Repeat this over and over. It is my mantra. Love the pix. LOL. You go, girl.

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    1. LOL. I didn't have time for the anger and grief . The new plot is actually coming together--I even wrote on my phone during my morning walk this morning. Just a complete re-invention of my hero...no big deal, right?! :)

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  11. Thanks for the giggles this morning! I feel your pain. Don't do this, do that, wait - not that, you can do it, we'll work it out, go back to the drawing board ... I've heard it all. I know you will do great, though. Hang in there! And anytime you feel like crying there's always the cupcake burglar picture to make you smile :) I'm just that kind of friend. LOL

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    1. I'm so pinning that picture up above my desk, Amy. Thanks for the reminder .

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    2. That picture gives me the giggles every time I see it!!

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  12. Great post. I'm joining you in the pool now...

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    1. Come on in, Liz, the water's, um, great. *paddles around*

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  13. I loved this post, Anna! Sorry about the 100 pages. :-(

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    1. Thanks, Kate. And some of it was really good! Gotta try to start fresh and not fall back on them...maybe i can sue them for another character, LOL :)

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  14. So funny. And I love how the pictures captured your feelings. You really took it all in stride. Good for you. As a reader I'm finding out what writers have to contend with. It makes me appreciate all of you all the more. Keep up the good work and congratulations to you!!

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    1. Thanks so much, Laurie. Despite the "issues", writing is still the best job in the world!! <3 and we love our readers!

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  15. I feel your pain! My first revision letter had 269 comments that my editor wanted chages on and it was only a 250 page manuscript. :-) That said, when I was finished, that editor saved my rear!

    And I love your photos...got to find that first one.

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    1. Oh, man, Patricia. That hurts. Thank goodness we have editors who do that for us. I think that first one is from The Incredibles, but I"m not sure . Happy writing on the next project!!

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