Wild Women Set Loose

Wild Women, Wild Voices: Writing from Your Authentic WildnessApril 7 was the official release date of Wild Women, Wild Voices. Thank you New World Library for creating this beautiful, wild book.
Now comes the part writers alternately look forward to and look away from during the writing, the rewriting, the editing and the thousand steps that happen between idea and published book. You’re finally taking your baby out for its first public viewings. Ready or not … here goes:
Wed., April 8, 7:30 pm, Warwick’s in La Jolla, CA
Sat., April 11, 5:30 pm, Publication Party co-hosted by San Diego Writers, Ink, Plaza at Gallery 17, Liberty Station, Pt. Loma
Wed., April 15, 1 pm (PDT), audio event, Live! with Kay, Journalverse
Thurs., April 16, 2 pm (PDT), telechat with Ruth Folit, Int’l Association for Journal Writing
Fri., May 8, 7 pm, Bloomsbury Books, Ashland, OR
Sun., May 10, 12 pm, (PDT) Interview with Sheila Bender, Writing It Real, KPTZ Radio
Tues., May 12, 7 pm, Annie Bloom’s Books, Portland, OR
Thurs., May 14, 7 pm, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA (Seattle area)
Sat., May 30, 10 am, Workshop, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
Thurs., June 4, 9 am (PDT) teleseminar, Int’l Association of Conscious  & Creative Writers
Fri., July 24, Speaker, Int’l Women’s Writing Guild Summer Conference, Litchfield, CT.
Sun., Aug. 2, 10 am, Day Retreat, J&J Ranch, Descanso, CAThat’s all for now, but more will be forthcoming, including a Wild Women, Wild Voices Writing Workshop SeriesThanks to Kim Keeline for some great interview questions about the book and wild voice. The interview is posted on SDWI‘s website. You can read it here.

And thanks to We Wanted to be Writers for posting an excerpt of Chapter 6 — Writing Place: The Geography of Our Lives on their generous website. You can read it here.

Evolution of a Book

The idea for Wild Women, Wild Voices came out of the Wild Women writing workshops I’ve done for many years, dating back to the mid-90s, but it wasn’t until August, 2013 when one morning I suddenly found myself writing a mini-proposal to my editor at New World Library. A little less than a month later I had a signed contract with a pub date of Summer 2014. Fortunately for me, the pub date got bumped to February 2015, then, even more fortunately, to its current release date of NOW!

box o' booksIn between the signing of the contract and the arrival of the books in bookstores and at my doorstep — some 18 months later, a gestation period more akin to an elephant than a human being — are many, many steps. First the idea, which was already in place, but an idea isn’t the same thing as a book. So you build the skeleton (structuring all those bare bones into some kind of coherent form), and do the research. You scratch out the terrible and lengthy first, raw drafts, followed by more research, followed by the second, third, fourth, etc. etc. drafts, and finally, months later, the final draft goes to your editor.

WWWV page proofsThen begins the next cycle: her edits and your rewrites from her edits; the long email exchanges and occasional panicky (on my part; she never panics) phone calls; next the more final final draft and the book goes to the copy editor. Another cycle: the copy editor’s edits, the revises from her edits, the proofreader’s edits, then the revises from her edits, the page proofs (this is where you get to see how the book really looks and where you grin so big your cheeks hurt), then a few corrections and the printer check arrives (this is how the book really really looks), just these last few tiny details, and then, for the longest time: Silence. You hold your breath. The book has gone to the printer.

All along during the back and forths before the book goes to the printer, you’re getting permissions where they’re needed, you’re double-checking references, you’re asking writers you admire if they’d be so kind and generous to “blurb” your book. They are! You’re all giddy and a little shy at what they write. You file away printouts of the first, messy drafts and say a prayer of gratitude for your editor who you’ve come to believe has special, magical powers that mere writers can never hope to possess. (Enduring gratitude to Georgia Hughes)

Judy ReevesYou get a new author photo taken. Your son, a talented photographer, takes several. He’s a patient man. In the end, it’s the very first one he snapped that you choose. You ask if he can, um, touch up a few places. He just smiles.

Also during the back and forth, you get to see the first draft of cover images. It may take a few tries to finally get the cover image everyone agrees on, but it’s worth it. You’re crazy about the cover. (Thank you, Tracy Cunningham). This is also when you find out your book will have an Index. Your first Index!

The in-between is also the time you to see the interior design of the book. Beautiful! Tona Pearce Myers has done it again. And again, you thank whatever benevolent spirit or lucky stars or whom- or whatever is responsible for you getting to have this long and rewarding relationship with New World Library, a publishing company that has brought so many beautiful and important books to the world.

The in-between time is also when you begin dialogues with the marketing staff and once again, you realize how fortunate you are to work with such pros. This is also when you start to get a little anxious and you remember that writing the book is just the half of it. Now you’re required to become a marketing pro yourself. And much as you like to give talks and make presentations and how easily you can go on and on about other writers’ work, making a Big Noise about your own work is a bit intimidating. You remember what your mother said: “Don’t brag on yourself, it’s not attractive.” So there’s that dragon to beat down. Plus you know you don’t know an iota of what you should know about social media.

To be continued …

The Art & Craft of Writing a Novel with Gwendolen Gross

One of the best things about friendships with other writers is getting to celebrate their successes. My dear friend and a terrific novelist, Gwendolen Gross recently published another novel (her fifth!) and I’ve been wearing my party hat ever since. I’m delighted that she agreed to do a Q&A session for my blog.

When She Was Gone is a novel about what happens in a community when a young college-bound girl disappears. It’s told in multiple points of view, with the addresses of the neighbors as chapter headings, which makes the community a characters as well as the various individuals–the girl’s mother, her neighbors, her ex-boyfriend and a curious eleven-year-old boy.

JR: First, I want to say how much I love this novel. The first chapter draws the reader in with beautifully crafted details and revelation after revelation of the characters and the situation. Where did the idea for the book come from?

wswgGwendolen Gross: Thank you! I had hoped, from the very beginning, to write about the hole that someone leaves when they disappear, rather than writing about the disappearance itself, exactly. I also am fascinated by the idea that we all look out of our windows at the street, but we have our lives, our secrets, our slightly different perspective and very different narrative that goes with the view. Character often dictates point of view for me–I decide how close I need to be, and how much fish-eye lens I need to see the character the way I want to see. Writing is all about those lenses, and it’s amazing how you can explore the same subject given different points of view. Often in my workshop, I’ll have students write a paragraph in first person (if I want it to be really complex, I’m make them write about a liar), and then the same paragraph but in third person, or even second, changing lenses.

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