Mary books

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Burnt peaches, Rewrites - and wasting time

It had taken me ages to prepare that second saucepan of peaches. I poured the small amount of water over the sugar and stirred until it started to boil. I turned the stove plate down and thought I’d wouldn’t start writing this blog post before it had finished cooking. Just a few minutes to check my email inbox before stirring it all again. After all, there could be that email from my publisher about the cover for my new book, Justice at Baragula coming out in a few months.

Well, there was that blog post from a writer friend I’d missed responding to for several days. Just a few lines should do it. Then I saw there were a few posts on that American Christian Fiction writers digest that interested me. A few minutes later – or I thought it was ‘a few’ – I went to check the peaches.

Horror. Froth had oozed up, tumbling over, down the sides of the saucepan, onto the plate, the stove. . .and the peaches were the wrong colour. Brown! Burnt. Ruined? A waste of time?
It had taken me hours, even days to decide on the plot for my next book. I took many hours to get to know my hero and heroine’s characters. Even after filling out those basic character questionnaire sheets they still had to let me get to know them when I started writing down their story in those first few chapters. Oh no, too much back-story! But the reader needs to know what happened all those years ago to understand why they are reacting the way I need them to. Would a prologue help?

I took more hours writing and re-writing that prologue. Mmm, much better, and now to change those other chapters. Rewriting took a lot of time. Then I re-read that prologue again. But what about the dialogue through those headphones? Had better check if the passenger and pilot can talk to each other like that in a small one engine plane. My brother once owned a Cessna the same as the one I’ve invented for this scene. A phone call to him should do it.

Horror. Headphones not needed at all except for perhaps the pilot to hear air traffic-control through them! Prologue ruined? A waste of time? Manuscript been put aside and is still waiting. . .waiting. . .
Now I have a burnt saucepan soaking – a very burnt saucepan! The peaches are in a clean one until they cool down. A taste? Hmm. . .doesn’t really taste burnt but does have a certain "tang". Perhaps I won’t have to throw them all out after all?

Now I have about three-quarters of that first draft written but no prologue that will work. Now my angst with myself has cooled down, now I’ve had more time to think about the characters, the conflict that separates them, breaking their hearts. Do I really have to throw out all those words no longer needed?

I taste the peaches. Mmm. . .not too burnt?. Perhaps just caramelised sugar? And there are still more on the tree waiting to be picked!

I re-read the manuscript. Mmm. . .not too bad. Perhaps just some more depth of emotion needed, some more showing instead of telling, more dialogue, and then of course that satisfying conclusion still to write!

No time wasted after all? Just a learning experience:-

1. Don’t check emails – or blogs - while cooking.

2..Don’t expect that first draft will not need rewriting, revising, rewriting, re. . .everything!

( But perhaps I did have the same expression today as my grand-daughter on her bad day?)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


I've been busy the last few days helping Ray with edits for his second book, From Eden With Love, in his 31 Day Devotional Meditation series.  What a blessing this has been!
But I'm getting ahead of myself - or giving my excuses for the length of days between posting here?
Let me tell you a little about my wonderful, marvellous, loving and incredible husband. (Can you tell reading his "take" on marriage has made me fall in love with him even more deeply and thank God for the many years we have shared together?)
Over the years in church ministry, Ray has written a great deal, including many, many Bible Studies used in his church pastoral ministries and articles for church newsletters, journals etc. Years ago our church denomination's publishing division published his Bible study booklet called Rekindled - A Bible study for those who have made a rededication to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of their lives. As well as many other favourable comments, we heard that it had been used successfully by prison chaplains. 
There have been quite a few letters to the editors of local newspapers printed, articles in church journals, and I can't remember the first time he showed me a poem he had written but since then there have been a great number of those - which he is just a little shy admitting!
In fact I have had a rather difficult time over the years not to nag him too much about having other books published! But since he retired (officially) from the ministry, he did submit a devotion to Upper Room and now for several years has at least two a year in those Daily Devotional books that are read worldwide. The way these have been received encouraged him to self-publish a book of devotions called The Neurotic Rooster - Devotional Insights from an African short term mission experience. This book has been used by other short term mission teams for their daily devotions.
And now, at last to my immense pride and joy, he has been contracted by Even Before Publishing for the first two books in his 31 Day series.
Children - God's Special Interest and From Eden With Love are scheduled for release in the next few months. You can be sure I'll be telling you definite dates here but they are expected to be available so we can share - for the very first time - launching our books together in June.

And now he has just sent the edited manuscript, From Eden With Love, off to the publisher in Queensland and we wait to see if more revisions are needed.

And me? Well, now I get back to preparing the talk for the Westbury Rotary Club, then the Bible Study elective for the Baptist women's Conference in March and then... Well, perhaps I will try and discipline myself to writing more on my own new book.

Have to give you a reminder though. I have a post called BLOOD RANSOME on the  International Christian Fiction Writers blog. (Click on the name) The author, Lisa Harris, is an American missionary in Africa and a lovely friend of ours. We stayed overnight with her and her family in Johannesburg when enroute to Ghana in 2005. This novel is a wonderful read. It blew me away, made me sad - and mad - about the modern slave trade in parts of Africa. The second book in this series, BLOOD COVENANT is being released this month. If you become a follower of the ICFW blog and leave a comment on my post you will be in the draws to win a copy of one of these books. However, you now only have until tomorrow, Thursday 10th to enter. Don't miss out and don't forget to leave your contact details there!

And of course, I will also be having contests in months to come for my own Justice at Baragula out in May - as well as Ray's wonderful, challenging books.