Saturday, August 31, 2013

Two Lessons Learned (and Last Day of the Pioneer Christmas Countdown!)

One more day til Launch Day! And this is the song running through my head....

Yesterday I shared some insider info about things that happened during my writing of A Silent Night. Today I would like to share a couple lessons I learned through the process. Here's my 2 lessons learned:
  1. Choose carefully your 1st readers: I'm constantly seeing loads of invitations on Twitter and Goodreads to read and respond to a writer's work--writers trying to get "objective" feedback on their early drafts. (I put "objective" in quotes because no feedback is ever objective.) I will never send my work out in that fashion. I'm particular about who sees my early drafts--and later drafts--because I need to know my words and characters are in safe hands. My mom is one of my 1 readers, not just because she's my mom and massively supportive, but because she's an avid reader and has a sharp eye and a keen sense of what works in a story and what doesn't. (I think, in another life, she would have been a writer herself.) It was Mom who first started the ball rolling toward the new ending that is now part of the finished story, and I took her suggestion because I trusted her instincts. Another 1st reader of mine is my BFF Hannah (who was a guest writer for my blog series). Hannah teaches English  and is a fabulous writer herself. She also has fantastic instincts when it comes to structure, plotting, story cohesion, and character development. Early on, when I wasn't sure Lorna's story (as opposed to the widower's story) was the one that I should run with, Hannah read the early draft and said, "Yes, this is the story you need to write." She saw the potential even before I did. 
  2. Trust yourself: I know you hear this all the time on those "feel-good" memes plastered on Pinterest and Facebook, so let me give you a very practical example of what I mean: I overhauled  the opening to chapter 2--where Lorna is no longer in Edinburgh, but in Michigan Territory--and received 2 categorically opposing pieces of advice; one from my agent and another from John Pipkin--my professor who graciously walked through this novella writing process with me.  John suggested one thing, my agent suggested another. I implicitly trust and respect them both, and was conflicted about who to listen to. But at the end of the day, I was the author of Lorna's story. My name was going beneath the title, and I needed to decide what chapter 2 needed to accomplish. I made a choice, and I think I made the right choice in this instance (though I know that won't always be the case.) I think it was A. J. Verdelle who said If you can't make decisions, don't be a writer. True story. And it was another of my professors, Roy Kauffman, who said that the writers who "make it" are the ones who make the most "right decisions" most often. Again, true story.
So I hope these 2 little nuggets haven't bored you, even though I'm sure they are things you already know. But, as I've said before, reminders are always helpful. And here's one more reminder for the road:
Tomorrow is Launch Day!!!!

Tomorrow is also the last day to enter the
Pioneer Christmas Giveaway!
You can choose any of the options below to enter (tweet, make a comment, "like" my FB page, follow me on Twitter) or you can do them all! The more you do, the more times you're entered into the Giveaway. Just follow the prompts below. 
Giveaway Prize: 
Copy of A Pioneer Christmas Collection signed by all 9 authors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will be announced on September 3. See you tomorrow!
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  1. You always have really great insights Anna. I appreciate reading a little about your process and thanks for sharing these little nuggets. I can't wait to read the book. Congratulations!

  2. I am SO excited for you! Can't wait to read your novella! The others are just a bonus. :) Congratulations!

  3. I would make a good pioneer because I like things simple and slower paced. Would really really love to win the book.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Bonnie! Yes, simple and slower paced is fabulous.


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