Sunday, July 17, 2016

Me and Writing

by Linda Thorne







I’ve been peeking in at Novel Spaces for years and I’m happy to say that, starting today, I have a regular slot on their schedule. Since this is my first presentation, I took the opportunity to talk about me; specifically, my writing, something I didn’t take seriously until fairly late in life. Something I didn’t begin until about eleven years ago with a decision that seemed to come out of nowhere.

There are all sorts of gray areas, thoughts and events that occurred throughout my lifetime that may have contributed to this sudden decision. The idea of writing novels could’ve been bubbling inside of me all along. I’ll never know for sure because I never consciously made the decision until the day I did. How that came about would be a post in itself, so if anyone wants to know more, check out my bio and my addendum, "How It Began," on my personal website at: http://www.lindathorne.com/bio/

My husband and I had lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for eight years when he was offered a job opportunity in the Central Valley of California. I quit my job and followed him to a little town called Hanford. It was some time during this period of unemployment from my usual career as a human resources manager that I'd decided to write a book. With the decision made, I drove to the nearest bookstore and bought a book on how to write a novel, read it, then proceeded to buy varying colors and sizes of index cards. I began.

I made it easy on myself by writing what I knew. I created my lead character to be, like me, a career human resources manager, and placed her in a manufacturing workplace similar to the one where I worked during nine of the fifteen years we lived in Denver. I set the book’s location at our prior home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. My first character to be killed came from a fictionalized version of a true murder case that happened at my HR job in Denver. I was easily spinning off fiction from real life experiences, now I only had to transform my HR manager protagonist into a sleuth. I wrote the book as if trying to pass a college class, without needing to do the research. This was going to be a piece of cake!

Yeah, right. Several months later, I completed all 125,000 wordy words of my book. Good plot, great ending, but bor-ing. My novel did not sound like other books I’d read. It wasn’t good. In fact, it was awful. I had to face the fact that I didn’t know how to write and I needed a great deal more than one self-help book to solve the problem. My piece of cake had crumbled into pieces.  

So I began the long process of beating myself over the head to get it, spending most of my spare time in those years after the book’s completion re-writing, studying self-help books, sharing my work with critique groups. Unnecessary characters and scenes were tossed, pacing improved, subplots thrown out. My book was getting shorter. I also began writing short stories that gave me writing projects I could complete quicker, hope for an award, a contest win, a publication, and they helped me learn to write. I started publishing short stories long before I published my book.

I entered contests too, my favorite being the Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, a free contest for anyone who had not already published a novel. Each year when I didn’t win, I’d do a critical review of my book before submitting it for the next year’s contest. In 2013, I knew I was making headway because my novel, Just Another Termination, made the finals. It made the finals again in 2014, but I couldn’t wait another year. I tweaked the book again and submitted it to Black Opal Books. By now, my 125,000 word book was down to 85,000.

To my surprise, Black Opal offered me a publishing contract for a 2015 release date. I was ecstatic. I’m currently writing the second book in my series, A Promotion to Die For. The journey has taken longer and been tougher than I ever imagined and it’s not over.

I am really glad to be here as a part of Novel Spaces. I hope the members and readers of this great blogspot will enjoy hearing from me from time to time. Your comments are more than welcome.

 Website: http://www.lindathorne.com/


25 comments:

Dac said...

Nice blog. I aim for 60k words - in chapters that are nice easy hunks.

Linda Thorne said...

Thank you, Dac. I tried for 75,000 words, but couldn't pull it off. It looks like my second book is leaning toward 85k as well. Smaller books are popular right now.

jrlindermuth said...

Congratulations, Linda. Good post.

Marissa Monteilh said...

Welcome, Linda! I so enjoyed your post. It shows that you have a true passion for writing, if you wrote 125k words, found it to be boring, yet you did not walk away from it. You did the work, and took on what was necessary to learn the craft. Congrats on your books deal, fellow HR lady and sister-in-pen - I look forward to reading more of your posts!

Marissa

Laura Elvebak said...

Inspiring post, Linda. Goes to show the saying, never give up, keep learning. It took me years as well.

Laura Elvebak said...

Inspiring post, Linda. Goes to show the saying, never give up, keep learning. It took me years as well.

Karyne Corum said...

Short story writing is key to developing writing skills. Sounds like you worked really hard and it paid off. Good for you!

Linda Thorne said...

Thank all of you for stopping by. Yes, it is very hard work. I going through the same motions now with the second book.

Sunny Frazier said...

When I was 17 and editor of the high school newspaper, I gave a speech to my journalism class that started with, "Since we're all going to write books. . ." They looked at lme like I was nuts. Yes, even that young it never occurred to me that I WASN'T going to write novels.

Marja said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your post, Linda, and I can relate to some of it. By the way, as I'm sure you've learned, writing isn't for sissies. Good job and your tenacious character seems to have paid off.

Linda Thorne said...

Sunny, when I was 17, the editor of my high school newspaper had me write an Easter special in the school newspaper. Back then it was okay to write religious subjects (as long as it was the most popular religion) in school newspapers but I chose a different route and wrote a story about how the Easter Bunny got connected with Easter. Most people had no idea. I got an award for the best story and my editor told me I should go into journalism. I wish I'd taken her advice.
Marja, you are so right. Sissies should not go into writing. The rejection alone would kill them.

Morgan Mandel said...

Yes, writing is a learning process
I'm still learning, as well as trying to remember what I knew before. Nice photo, Linda!

Morgan Mandel said...

Yes, writing is a learning process
I'm still learning, as well as trying to remember what I knew before. Nice photo, Linda!

Linda Thorne said...

Hi Morgan. Thanks for stopping by. The posts for you and Laura came in twice. Must be a glitch. As for my photo, I went through a few of them this morning because they kept disappearing. When this photo turned into an itsy tiny box, I checked my husband's computer to learn it's not the pictures or the site, but my computer. Maybe the duplicate comments are my computer too.

Chester Campbell said...

Loved your post, Linda. You did a lot better than I did. I wrote my first terrible novel while a junior in college (1948) and didn't get published until 2002. Glad you stuck with it, though. Keep up the good work.

Linda Thorne said...

My goodness, Chester. I had to find a calculator to figure that one out. That's 54 years! You are a great inspiration to those of us who started publishing in later years. You've got so many good books out too. Hellbound was my favorite - movie/bestseller material.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Welcome Linda. That's quite a journey. I did a call-in radio show Saturday and one of the callers asked if I would recommend journaling for those who want to write but did not know where to start. I was stumped because I never journaled. Writing always came easy to me (it's the publishing that's hard). So I suggested they do whatever they were comfortable with. If writing journals, or poetry or thoughts or motivational pieces or observations was most comfortable do it. Start somewhere.

I admire how you started ambitiously by taking the bull by the horn and writing a full length novel. That goes to show that writing can start anywhere and like the Nike commercial we should "just do it!"

Maggie said...

Linda, reading this reminded me of some of my own early experiences. My first book was looooong, but I got it down to 93k words. My second is about 83K! Writing is quite learning experience.

Beth Fine said...

Anyone who has written and submitted to a publisher can identify with this candid post. As an HR manager, Linda surely has to be firm, even sometimes hard, to settle business matters. As a persistent writer, she probably directs that same energy to accomplish personal goals. After reading all the locations and events in this post, I recognize them as details she massaged and reused for "Just Another Termination" which is not "just another" mystery, but a true amalgam of her own experiences. We writers know that policy is the only way to make characters and settings ring authentically. My hat goes off to Jewel for the freedom to write in any way that is comfortable instead of insisting on the academic nonsense that journaling brings creativity. When teaching, I about lost my mind reading student daily entries about "This weekend I hung out with my friends at the club, or I went shopping at the mall, or I think the best/worst thing in my life was having a baby."

Linda Thorne said...

I was stuck at work today while more interesting posts came in. Thank you Jewel, Maggie, and Beth. The path to writing and getting published is different for all of us except for when it's the same or similar. One thing I think is consistent for all writers is it's a journey.

Joyce Brown said...

I love your description of the process of writing, rewriting, contest submissions, etc. I can identify.

Linda Thorne said...

Joyce, I'm sure a lot of writers can identify. It became a way of life for me. The contest submissions especially helped my writing because I had short-term motivators to perfect a piece of work. I improved my writing and had the fun of that tiny hope of contest fame and fortune. A pipe dream most times, but it served to motivate.

Liane Spicer said...

Welcome, Linda! Very much looking forward to your contributions.

I tend to write long as well and during the editing phase I have to pare and carve and compress and, as they say, kill my darlings. And that's just the start. This is a tough job!

Linda Thorne said...

Nice to hear I'm not alone, Liane. I seem to stuff way too many words in, but I heard some great author did the same then cut afterwards. Might've been Hemmingway, maybe someone else. It's the results that count. My "removed book parts" I keep on file is almost as long as my book.

amazon said...

nice