dissecting a book

Scott Eagan of Greyhaus Literary Agency was a dynamic presenter with strong opinions and clear examples of how to dissect novels and dissect our own writing to determine where it will fit within the ever shrinking publishing markets.

I could sense unrest among attendees over some of his opinions regarding indy and epublishers yet there was respect and appreciation at the whole body of his message. He was all about sharing tips and tools to make authors more targeted on what they write and where they submit to avoid an excess of rejections. It’s awesome to get views from the other side of the submission/publishing process.Β  Scott knows why and how he picks a few clients a year out of the hundreds of queries he gets weekly.

The clue he revealed that hit many with stunned disbelief was to write what you read. One example is Jessa Slade who reads historicals but writes urban fantasy romances.Β  She knows she doesn’t have the historical voice – she’s got edge. πŸ™‚

I stared at my own bookshelves. They are full of novels written by my friends (all genre styles and publishing formats!) and an overload of nonfiction topics that would suggest I’m too schizophrenic to write anything. However I also had to step back and look more objectively not just at the books but also my journey as a writer and my intent to my craft.

In the 1990’s I was submitting manuscripts to Harlequin American Romances but it was my hobby with intent for a retirement career as a Single Title Author in the very distant future. There were a handful of nonfiction books on my shelves then and I took a few weekend writing classes. It was 2003 before I began attending monthly workshops and annual conferences. Then there was my learning curve to write a memoir. Personal events during the past ten years in my family life have also mirrored The Hero’s Journey in too many ways.

The nonfiction books on my shelf today (beyond dozens of writer craft books) cover astrology; dreams, crop circles, fairies, Feng Shui, The Tarot, and numerous mythologies. I’m also interested in archeology, architecture and physics. There are guides to various spiritual and religious practices past and current. Then there are the practical health guides, a variety of cookbooks, and books specific to a single place or event.

Yet once I looked past those books I realized there is a certain type of novel that I read. They are accurate, adventurous, and uplifting stories. These words apply to every novel I’ve enjoyed from Marc Acito’s Theater People to Trish MacGregor’s Esperanza. I read books where the characters have a passion for something and a reason to do something on the pages beyond kick-but-action. And this is what I write.

So while Scott’s advice would have been invaluable for me years ago, it was also enlightening for me today because I realized the most important thing. I don’t have to go back to my hobby plan of targeting a specific line or editor, instead I’m shooting straight for the Single Title Author career.

Which made my rewrites on my contemporary romance in-process much easier and productive because I wrote an accurate, adventurous, and uplifting story. Now I’m just adding my new voice and embellishing the craft. I’ve learned enough not to balk at the specific words used in the advice but to see how it applies to me.

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