Monday, January 2, 2012

Dear Reporter: How Do They Do What They Do?

Dear readers

It was a dark and stormy night...

A knock at the door interrupted. He lifted his hands from the Royal typewriter and looked to the frosted glass of his office door.
"Come in."
The door opened tentatively, blonde perfectly coiffed hair, sweet face peering in. Her lips the color of a ruby, manicured fingernails to match wrapped around the edge of the door. She questioned, "Mister Butler?"
"You got me doll." He leaned back in the oak swivel chair propping wing tipped shoes onto the desk. "You the author?"
"Come in. Make yourself comfortable." He swung his feet to the floor and rose half way to meet her, arm lifted in welcome.
She drifted in on a cloud of, what was it—cinnamon? creme brulee? She lowered her perfect heart shaped derriere into the tack button wingchair diagonal to his desk.
He dropped slowly back to his seat, eyes glued to the mint cambresine linen that hugged her curves like cling film.

"So Miss, uh..." damn if her name hadn't exited his brain along with his tact.
"London." She folded her hands in her lap. "Like the town."
"Bit more of a city isn't it?" He cringed. Brilliant.
She cleared her throat and smiled. Lord there was a God.
"So...Miss London."
"Christine. Please."
He tried to swallow the wad of cotton that wedged in his throat when she graced him with that life altering smile. "Christine." He forced his eyes to the desk, snagging steno pad and pencil.

"So...tell me." He prayed the blood would stop pounding in his ears. "What sacrifices, struggles, hardships, uh... negativity have you endured along your path to publication, you an author?" Beads of sweat popped to his hairline and he sat like some sixth form boy in the headmaster's office.
She chuckled. "How long have you got?"

* * * *
Fast forward to reality.
99.9999% of authors are not celebrity or any closer to it than a gal waiting for the clerk to scan her copy of the Hollywood Intruder at check out.

We are ordinary folk that, for the most part, have day jobs, houses with big mortgages, apartments with rent to pay, kids to feed, and the million and one distractions common in the new age. The thing that makes us, well...'different', is that we have this little problem. We are drawn to putting words to page like addict to heroine. We can't NOT write. It's like the blood in our veins and the air we breathe.
Left for too many days without pen, paper or computer, we begin to shake, or at least become irritable— because we hear voices. Yes--our characters are in our heads clamoring to get out. Sometimes softly at first, but they have a story to tell and darn it, they will hound us until they tell it. Even if the telling is not always...easy?

'What sacrifices, struggles, hardships, negativity have I endured and how do I overcome?'
Since the first story flooded my mind one warm July day in 2005, I have spent every available free minute either thinking about, reading for, attending workshops, conventions, signings, panels and tapping away on the keyboard—all in support of this new skill I've unearthed. I think I always knew I could write. I wrote newsletters weekly as a kindergarten teacher, keeping parents abreast of their little darlin's. Won accolades for them. But never in my wildest dreams had I a notion of writing fiction. Fiction was something they required you to read in college Lit class, not something that real flesh and blood people actually did.
When lightning struck and I knew I had to write this story about a lonely mega star and an unlikely fan that saves him from himself. I typed into the wee hours for days, weeks, months. People began to wonder if I'd acquired some terminal disease that kept me isolated from the real world---certainly from them.
Three months later I had a 100,000 word manuscript ready to go...NOT! What did I know about writing fiction and what now? Google to the rescue. What was this story anyways? Man meets woman with lotsa complications but love prevails? Ahh...a romance. Never read one. Bet they are cool. This one sure was.(is)

Off to RWA I went. Romance Writers Of America saved my behind. At their monthly meetings and through the online discussion loop I learned the craft of riveting fiction. I read craft and publishing business 101 books. I rewrote. I wrote another book while doing so. An erotic romance (how fun!) Yeah...I can do that, I thought, after listening to a recording from the national RWA conference about writing a sexy novella. Sure, no prob.
Even had a blast producing a book cover for it with my webmistress and her professional photographer hubby.

Soul Shoot-Christine and Alex

Submissions? Learned how to do that to, and to whom and what to say. Zap. Fifteen months after first keystroke, untold rejections and challenges, sleepless nights, dreams of the dreamer, I was a contracted author.
I sold.
I cried when I opened that email. They wanted work. Two percent of manuscripts that cross a publishers desk are requested to see more. Less than that are contracted. People write for years and never sell. I'd made it.
NOT. The 'fun' had just begun. Authors are not only NOT celebrities with pursuant personal assistants and publicists. They are now required to do the lion's share of their promotions, build a platform, name recognition, a readership—with no budget. Thing is--not even professional marketers know what is going to work in that regard. So we neophyte authors climb Mount Learning Curve and do whatever it takes to get to know our audience. We the mighty, the few, the proud, the brave--we sail the waters of authordom aboard the good ship Crowded. Crowded is a place of many, many such aspiring superstar authors all vying for reader attention.

And so we continue learning the ropes of marketing, promotions, social media, websites, blogs, loops, panels, signings ,riveting fiction, perfect word counts, perfect prose. In all the hustle and bustle of daily life, we fit in writing and promotions. Five minutes in the dentist's waiting room, ten minutes at coffee break, an hour before anyone is awake--even the sun, deep into the night. We write, we promote, we socialize, we network and if we are extraordinarily blessed we receive kudos from a reviewer or two--luckier if we receive an email or note from a reader. Oh my goodness.

To touch the life of a reader. To make a difference. To uplift, inspire, educate and entertain. That is akin to touching the face of God. Legacy and end of days. We, our words, the heart and soul behind our words shall live into the future. A future we can not imagine, eyes yet unborn, minds that may marvel at the world we saw through the vehicle of our words. The world they now share with us and potential untold readers. The magic of the imagination. Unlimited possibilities.
Why do I write. Why do I breathe? Why do I hope and love and dream? I want to touch the face of God.

Christine London


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Unknown said...

As writers we also reach into the soul of our readers and grab a hold of the words/vision/heart and scribble them onto paper or type onto the screen. That's what you did Christine. Reached in and pulled the exact words I've used -not all at the same time, mind you- when replying to someone who asks why I write. Like you said, why do we breathe?

And it's so true about a writer can't NOT write. A true writer can't stop even when they've been dragged down to the deepest depths of negativity they still can't stop writing. For me it's nice knowing I'm not the only one who has those characters demanding release and insisting THEY know how the storyline/plot needs to be and go. Or that THEY know what their names are! *laugh* I knew I wasn't as crazy as others said I was.

After you've recorded theie -characters- stories do they fall silent for you too? At the very least until they have come up with another plot THEY themselves want to be in?

Whoot! Whoot! Christine you're da bomb with a milkshake and bag of chips on the side. *grin* Sorry, kids thought I should add that last part. I read it aloud to them. I think they understand me a little better now. *smile*


gail roughton branan said...

Christine, I don't know how anybody's going to top that. I wouldn't know how to say it with any more clarity. And your intro? Girl, I SAW Sam Spade sitting there, interviewing his client. Okay, Sam Spade was a detective but still... that was the feel. Fabulous blog post. Truly.

Maria Powers said...

What gets in my way? Me, myself and I. I am the biggest enemy I have for my writing. This reminds me that I need to get back to my revisions!


Marian Lanouette said...

Christine, you said it all and so well, Thanks, Marian PS love the intro

Unknown said...

I loved your blog so much I shared it on FB. The pictures definitely made the story come to life, but you have such a great way with words, I'm sure it would have been equally as stunning without the pics. I'm expecting my ship to come in any day now, but I'm starting to think it sprung a leak and sank somewhere off shore. :)

Unknown said...

Ha, ha, that was quite a fun read, yet soooo true. You nailed it girl.

We must write, or maybe it's the demon's inside of us wanting to get out. That evil killer that must be caught, the vampire on the loose in a tiny town, or the E.T. that came to conquer Earth.

Our hero or heroine must come alive on the pages to save us from the evil. She or he also fights to get out. She can't let this happen.

Hmm. Maybe I'll go start another story now.

Thanks for a great post. The pictures were so perfect.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh Christine...what a post. Loved every bit of it...and yeah, much of it resonates.

If your an accomplished's because you write, whether it be blogging, promoting, marketing OR writing your next novel, novella, short write...and you love it. truly inspire me.

Great post/pictures!

Wendy said...

Wow Christine! A post to end all posts. What a wonderful read that was. Sounds like you know something about a writer's life. lol. When my turn comes on Feb 1st I might link back to yours and write 'ditto'. You did a superb job and I love the pics.

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

Christine, anyone who doesn't know you might think the character you created was fiction, but you definitely fit the character to a T. Actually, I could imagine you in that suit. You are a beautiful person both outside and inside and thank you for listing all the of hardships all of us writers and authors go though to bring our books to life. No one really understands what it is like to be a contracted author except another one and you have definitely put it all out here. It's going to be hard to follow you!!! Great post and I love the cartoon. I'm an old love comic addict and this was perfect!!!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Christine. I wasn't aware it could be fun to read about other writer's struggles. :-) I'll get to work with a smile on my face.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Love your post, Christine - there's so much truth in that writer's journey!

Viviane Brentanos said...

A wonderful post as only Miss London can make it wonderful. She has captured the life, struggles, angst of a writer to a tee. Well done, Chris and I do believe you should be appointed Muse reporter.


J.Q. Rose said...

Christine, I think you captured a writer's story in a nutshell. The ex-kindergarten teacher gets an A++! Thank you.

Christine London said...

I am humbled by all your comments dear writer friends and gratified that you feel I 'got it'. Thank you for all your support. Make the dream live in 2012!
Christine London

Anonymous said...

Love this, Christine! Landing a contract is just the beginning. Nowadays, besides writing, and our personal lives, we have to handle marketing, branding, blogging, other social media... phew. I think I'm going to take a nap. ;) But you know I wouldn't trade it for the world.


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