Stephen King had it right when he wrote, “to write is human, to edit is divine.” I’ve always said, I don’t like writing, I like having written. It’s after getting the words down on paper (or screen) that the real work begins. Knowing where to slash; where to ‘kill your darlings’ can be utter agony. And, it can be the best thing since…well, since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or insert your favorite book title here).
Since I last blogged about jumping off a cliff, I’ve established my own publishing imprint, Write Choice Ink, and, with the help and direction of the completely amazing Victoria Rydberg Nania–it’s she who is doing all the heavy lifting–I’m reissuing all of my books. Doing this has given me the opportunity to look at them with fresh eyes.
Way back when
Way back when I wrote Poison Pen, I had to learn how to write in an entirely new way. After having written countless technical articles and monographs on handwriting psychology, and two nonfiction books, I discovered that writing fiction was, quite literally, a very different story. Poison Pen was published by Penguin in 2007. Since then, I’ve written nine more fiction (and four nonfiction) books. With every one, I worked hard to hone my craft. With every one, I learned something new about novel writing. And with every one, it felt as though I had clawed my way up to the next level (i.e., I wrote better).
When it was time to send the books to Victoria for formatting and publishing, I thought I’d better have a look. After all, Poison Pen was my first mystery. It was good enough for a major house to publish, but OMG! Suffice it to say, I did a whole lot of rewriting, which included chopping more than six-thousand words! (that’s nearly 20 pages), which made it way better.
The first four books needed the most work. I had learned a lot by the time I’d written them all, so there was less to do on the next four. That brought me to the two Beyond the Veil books. I loved getting back into What She Saw–one of my favorites; improving the opening, smoothing it all out. Now, I’m halfway through Proof of Life, which is benefiting from that divine editing. This is all leading up to the release of the next Claudia Rose book, DEAD LETTERS, in August (I’m hoping by then to have an in-person launch party).
Poison Pen and Written in Blood are on sale now and the others are up for pre-order. They’ll all be released in the next few weeks. And, btw, thanks to Terry Rydberg for some fantastic new covers.
Join my Street Team
If you enjoy my books, you might want to consider joining my Write Choice Inkers Street Team. For helping me spread the word, you’ll get early access to new books, our private Facebook page, and other perks. Send me an email if you’d like to be an Inker. firstname.lastname@example.org
Poison Pen will be out in audiobook any day now–stay tuned! I’ll have free codes to spread around.
To jump off a cliff is Very Big Decision; one I recently made: I am going to independently publish my new book, Dead Letters (#8 in the Claudia Rose psychological suspense series). After publishing my nonfiction books on handwriting psychology for a while now, I find this choice infinitely more daunting. I waffled over it for a few weeks, not entirely sure it was the right thing to do. Then, this happened…
The day after making the VBD, I intended to go grocery shopping in the morning. But, procrastinator that I am, I put it off until well after lunch. Just before I left my keyboard, I emailed my friend and fellow author Peg Brantley to share the news. The subject line was: I just jumped off a cliff.
Words of wisdom
Driving across town to the local Winco, I tuned the radio to NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Thanks to my lagging, I’d caught the last few minutes of what had clearly been a great interview with the venerable actor, Sir Patrick Stewart. When I heard what he said, I confess to promptly bursting into tears. Speaking of his early days in the business, he quoted a teacher who had told him something he said he never fully understood until much later:
“Patrick, you will never achieve success by insuring against failure.” I thought, huh, that’s so true. But it was his next words that made my mouth drop open.
“You have to take risks,” he said as if directly speaking to me. “You have to be brave; you have to step into the unknown.”
Then: “You have to step off the edge of a cliff.” OMG, that’s what I had just written to Peg! But wait, there’s more…
Patrick Stewart said, “I always make sure I’m dead letter perfect.” OMG, OMG, OMG!!! Dead Letters is the title of my new book!!!
To make sure I wasn’t misremembering or putting words in his mouth, I looked up the interview online and transcribed exactly what he had said. I don’t know about you, but I believe in spirit guides and angels, and I believe that when we ask for help, we get it. Oh boy, had I been asking! Just think–had I gone to the store in the morning, rather than procrastinating, I would have missed the interview. If I had been a half an hour earlier I would have missed the interview.
Look, I know that everything Sir Patrick said could be applied to any author. But I don’t believe in coincidences. If it had been just the first statement, well, that was encouraging. But the second, and the third—at that moment, those words were meant for me.
2020 was a super-rotten year for all of us, some more than others suffering intolerable losses of many kinds. But all of a sudden, a bright ray of hope carried me into 2021. Soon, I’ll have more to tell you about this adventure, but for now, I wish you a very Happy New Year. I hope that by my tale of jumping off a cliff, you will feel empowered and encouraged, too.
A version of this blog was published on 1/4/21 at Blackbirdwriters.com