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Monday, April 1, 2013

DO YOU LOVE YOUR BOOK?


By Celia Yeary

Do you love your book? I wrote ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS very quickly, in about three months. I knew the characters, I knew the plot, and I sat down and just wrote. And wrote, and wrote. When I thought it ready for someone to read, I entered the first chapter in a contest. Although I did not place, I did receive nice compliments…except for a few negative comments. “The opening needs to be deleted. Have Cynthia and Ricardo meet in the first paragraph.” “Under no circumstances have Cynthia musing to herself.” “POV is all over the place. Clean that up, and you might, just might, mind you, have something to work with.”
 
Suddenly, I wondered if my story was as good as I thought. The negative comments diminished me as a writer, and I wondered if I was good enough to continue. I was afraid to ask anyone else to  read it, as I had all my other rambling stories. But…I loved my story. I could see it in book form.
I loved my book, whether anyone else did or not.

YOUR ATTITUDE
Did your mother ever say to you, “You’d better change your attitude, young lady!” (or...young man!)
Ohhh, mine did, especially during my teen years.
Usually, I obeyed relatively well, and life generally ran smoothly in the Davis household.
Sometimes, when Moher asked me to do something difficult, I might reply with a dramatic whine, “I caaan’t!” Her answer? “Can’t never did anything.”
A good attitude shows our positive side. As an author or writer, “attitude is everything.”

YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD YOUR BOOK
Do you love your book? Do you believe in it, even if an editor or publisher doesn’t? Does a rejection letter seem personal, as if the words on the page describe you? “Sorry, not good enough.” (Interpretation: Sorry, you’re not good enough.) “We like your book, but we don’t love it.” (Interpretation: We don’t love you.) “Your manuscript might be good, if you re-write the entire 300 pages. Make your hero the villain, kill off your heroine, because she’s not worth the paper she’s written on, and while you’re at it, think up a new plot.” Ugh, you say, this goes in the trash.
However, if you write a story that contains three key elements—urgency, intensity, and drama—soon you will sell your book to an editor.

YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD YOURSELF
I grew up as the middle sister. Daddy wanted us three girls to look pretty every day. He’d tell Mother to curl our hair, get new dresses (she made all of them), and tell us to “act pretty.” Since he told us every day we were pretty, I believed it, and although I was shy, I still thought well of myself. I had confidence even as a child.
Confidence is Job Number One for success in the writing business. It means you are a good writer, and you feel competent. You take pride in each accomplishment. If you keep this attitude about yourself, soon you’re willing to take scary risks to reach beyond who you are now. Confidence is acting that way, even when you are not.
Keep telling yourself, “I’m good, and my book is, too.”
 
FIRST LINES IN ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS
 
Nacogdoches, Texas, 1880
If I had known running away would be this hot and this dirty, she fumed, I would have stayed home. With her dainty lace handkerchief, Cynthia Harrington dabbed the perspiration from her upper lip. She sighed heavily for the one-hundredth time today and impatiently brushed the dust from the skirt of her best lavender day dress.
But she could not stay home, where she would much prefer to be right now instead of in this unbearable heat. Her father had made peace between them impossible with his idiotic demands and lectures about her place in society. Society, indeed! Nacogdoches was not exactly the social center of Texas, so she made the decision to leave home and drive her one-seat buggy to Austin or San Antonio. All she knew to do was go west. Either city would do. She hoped she would be there in one day, because she had brought only one change of dress and one other bonnet. The one hundred dollars tucked in her reticule would surely be enough to live on for a while.
She snapped the reins lightly on the back of the horse, just slightly, because she couldn’t bear to hurt the sweet, little thing. Of course, she would need to feed and water Little Dixie, but she thought livery stable fees were reasonable.  
A sound of pounding hooves brought her out of her thoughts. A rider approached behind her, and he was already close. Fleetingly, she thought of highwaymen and unsavory characters that might be out to harm her, but she never heard of such things in this civilized part of Texas. She guided her mare to the side of the road and stopped to allow him to pass by. Surely, he would ride past, and maybe not throw a swirl of dust all over her. She sat very still beneath the bonnet of the little buggy and pressed her back to the seat.
The horse, however, seemed to slow its gait, and yes, it was brought to a halt beside her. She ventured a peek and blew out a breath. Ricardo Romero. That…that ne’er-do-well.
She stiffened her back and held her breath. Go away; go away. If she pretended not to see him, let alone recognize him, maybe he would take the hint and ride on.
He touched the flat brim of his gaucho-style hat. “Miss Harrington. Good morning.”

~~*~~*~~*~~


 
ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS
BLURB:

To escape an arranged marriage, beautiful, proper Cynthia Harrington from East Texas impulsively marries Ricardo Romero, a striking, sensual Spaniard who ranches on the far western edge of the Texas frontier. Innocently, she steps into a hotbed of anger, rivalry, and strong wills. As she struggles to gain a foothold in the hostile household and foreign ranch community, she finds that her biggest challenge is to make her husband love her.
 Ricardo creates his own problems by marrying an outsider, angering his mother, father, and his jealous ex-lady friend. Then, the Texas Rangers arrive looking for a killer, and Cynthia saves Ricardo’s mother in a confrontation with the wanted man. Ricardo realizes that his delicate bride has more grit and spunk than he thought, and his greatest trial becomes a race to pursue his own wife and persuade her to stay with him.
~~*~~*~~*~~


My First Published Book-which has sold nicely, despite the negative comments the judge made!
Now, $2.99, reduced by The Wild Rose Press because it is over two years old.
Please visit Amazon:
***OR***
Barnes and Noble

SNIPPETS OF REVIEWS:

Celia Yeary’s debut novel All My Hopes and Dreams is definitely a 5 star read. She tells this story from all sides without giving away a single twist. This story will leave you smiling.
Writers and Readers of Distinctive Fiction.

 Outstanding dialogue, conflict, and remarkable vibrant characters make All My Hopes and Dreams a sensational read. With the lovely backdrop and scenery of Texas, this is a story readers should not allow to slip through their fingers.
Coffeetime Romance   
  Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

18 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Celia, and I love your excerpt. :)

    Oh boy, do I remember all those rejection letters and comments! They tore my confidence, except to fill me with confidence that I was no good as a writer. LOL

    For whatever reason, I kept plugging away because that particular story was my baby and I loved it. I did make changes, I'll admit that. It wasn't exactly the same as when I wrote the first lines back in...*mumble, mumble*...but the basic plotline remained the same.

    Seriously, though, I think authors must be some of the most insecure folks on the planet!

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  2. Great post, Celia - and I so agree about writers needing to have confidence in themselves, or at least a very thick skin! I was lucky enough to have my very first book accepted by the first publisher I sent it to. That was back in the 60s and at the time I thought it was the book I was 'destined' to write - but if I ever look at it now, I cringe! Styles and plots have changed a lot since then!

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  3. I disagree with the "don't let characters muse to themselves" rule. You lose a lot of character depth that way. I think it was absolutely the right way to start this book. :-)

    Our rule of dress was: Look like you plan to accomplish something! That's still high on my priority list. Fashion? Eh. What does that matter? Just do something productive. Yes, I still dress for comfort and productivity. Attitude does matter!

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  4. It's just like that old saying, "One aw-shit will erase 100 atta-girls". One bad review puts me in depression, with self-doubts screaming at me that I can't write, after all, look at how much money other authors make, and I don't like their books. Must be something wrong with me...etc. etc.

    Yet a few good reviews make me think that I must be doing okay, after all, publishers keep on publishing my books so I must be doing something right...right?

    Authors expose their inner thoughts in a way that other artists don't. It's no wonder we take criticism so seriously. Thanks for an interesting post.

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  5. Hi Celia, We're all so fragile, we writers, even though we project confidence and learn to toughen our hides. My biggest lack of confidence comes now when I contemplate starting a new project. I so very much want to write each successive book in a more gripping way.

    And I loved All my Hopes and Dreams. You have such a great cover for that book. I hope the lower price attracts some new readers. These days you never know what works!

    Wishing you many sales.

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  6. Miss Mae--oh, yes, I did some re-writing. How to begin a novel was one of the best things I learned from those RWA contests. Now, I just cringe when I begin a romance novel and the first ten pages are telling and backstory. I do see how "jumping into the story" is of value.
    The criticism can either break us, or make our backbones even stronger. Me? I love to win--whatever it is--a golf game, a contest, anyting...I will try to win.
    Thanks for the visit!

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  7. Paula--that is so funny. I've heard that from other authors who wrote in the 70s and 80s--they thought their books were so good, and now they cringe. Isn't that weird? Time changes everything.
    I've never had a very thick skin--if I think someone's talking about me or doesn't like me--I really don't like it at all. But I always blame myself, as maybe there's something wrong with me.
    I realize writing is like anything else--you cannot win all the time.
    Thanks so much for your comment.

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  8. LK--yes, the "no musing to oneself" criticism was just wrong. That's part of a good story. Some of the best stories have the heroine or hero musing.It's not "telling," the big no-no, but it's "internal dialogue." My first editor told me I needed more of that.
    Thanks--and I'm glad you dress however the heck you want to. My upbringing is just too ingrained.

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  9. Fiona! That is so funny!! But on the mark. One bad word can wipe out a hundred good ones. Those good words and comments and statements--I copy some of them and paste into a document titled "Good comments." Honestly. And sometimes I read them to make myself feel better.
    Thanks for the entertaining comment!

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  10. Maggie--you know that lowered price with the older TWRP book is making a difference. I was suprised. But I did promote it as a lowered price because it was over two years old--actually, All My Hopes and Dreams was my first published book--in 2008--can you believe it?
    Thanks--I always look forward to reading what you say in a comment.

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  11. Celia, we have to love our own books or we can't expect readers to love them. All those years of hearing "pride goes before a fall" and "don't think so much of yourself" yada yada work against us in this business.

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  12. Caroline--I hadn't thought of all those admonitions from our childhood and church. But as I said, my daddy made me believe if I'acted' pretty, well, then I would be. Well, no, that wasn't exactly true, but it did give me a confidence to believe in myself a little more. It came in hand when I decided to go to college at age 27 with two small children at home. I heard plenty of times I couldn't do it..but you see? That just made me more determined.

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  13. I enjoyed this post, Celia, and all the comments. And I certainly enjoyed All My Hopes and Dreams. It was the first of your books I read back when we were both beginning digital authors with the same publisher. Can it be five years? To quote the old cliche You've come a long way, baby."

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  14. I loved those lines. The one I liked the best and said this heroine is a good person was when she would hit little Dixie becasue it was too hot and she diodn't want to hurt the horse.
    I've had conflicting comments from critique groups on one of my stories that I loved writing. It led to confusion and I never handed over another story to a critique group. They can be brutal and spirit-breaking. I'd rather have Beta readers with honest opinions.
    I liked this blog.

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  15. Linda--five years? Oh, surely not! Wow, I cannot believe it. But I look back and remember all the things we've talked about and discussed, well, that would constitute a large amount of topics.
    I love it--"You've come a long way Baby." Maybe I'll make that my tag line. Thank you, thank you, thank you...for everything little thing.

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  16. Sarah--interesting that you picked out that sentence about Cynthia not wanting to hurt Little Dixie. You're the first person to ever say that. Actually, Cynthia was not a good person when she first appeared in Texas Blue, but in her own story--All My Hopes and Dreams--she becomes a real woman who began to care about others. You see...she'd never had to at home. But out west---her life became a whole different story.
    I almost joined a critique group or two, with author friends I barely knew telling me, no, don't. You won't benefit from five different points of view. So, I never did. But I have heard that more than once.
    Thank you.

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  17. My mother told us we had to like everyone and strive to make sure everyone liked us. Impossible, you say. You bet it is, but until I was 40 years old I sure tried. Our mothers did the best they knew how, but sometimes it is hard to recover from their impossible taskss.

    Now that I am a published author what I am finding difficult is to believe people when they tell me my story is wonderful and I am a great writer. I look over my shoulder to make sure they are speaking to me. Years of gut punches from contest judges have left their scars and doubts. It's almost like you have to die and be reborn. Luckily for me, I have found a perfect CP for me. He gives me confidence, yet if he finds something that needs changing he doesn't hesitate to show me where and gives me suggestions on how. He never presumes to tell me what to do, just hints on ways to make it better. I am finding he is most always right and I am growing as a writer under his guidance. His praise sends me over the moon because I know he doesn't give it unless it is warranted.

    I've enjoyed reading your stories, Celia. I am glad you keep on writing them. And, your father was right - you are a beautiful woman. :)

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  18. Celia,
    Wonderful post. I remember those rejection letters and how down I felt after reading them.
    The self doubt set in for awhile, before I the nerve to try again.

    Now when I have someone tell me how much they liked my story, it's difficult for me to realize they 'really' mean my story.

    So glad you didn't give up. I've enjoyed your tales. :)

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