Wednesday, February 13, 2008
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I’m back and chasing my dream.
I appreciate all the writers and readers who have supported me during the past year and half while I’ve been off-line in the CBA writing world. There is a time for every season and while I don’t think my life’s much different than anyone else’s, it’s been almost impossible for me to write full-time. Were it not for my love affair with Jesus Christ, my loving husband, family and friends, I wouldn’t be writing this blog today. Amen!
Yes, life’s thrown my family a lot of crap this past year, but through God’s grace we’re dealing, and are better than ever, especially spiritually. I’ve managed to complete a novel, start two more, write a book proposal and keep up with my Stargate SG-1 fanfiction. All this with my daughter and two grandsons in the same house. Unfortunately, my daughter is going through a divorce and with two small boys, ages 4 and 8 months, she has her hands full, and Gary and I are helping out the best we can.
So, before life pitches another curve ball, like a partial knee replacement surgery next month, I’m blogging come Netu or high water. For those who don’t watch Stargate SG-1 (I can’t believe such individuals exist!) Netu is a hot, sulfuric moon with major gastric problems. Think bowels of hell. Yeah, not a pretty picture.
So let’s discuss cooler things like Romantic Suspense.
When anyone talks romantic suspense, classic novels and movies seductively come to mind. From the dark and brooding gothic Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier to Alfred Hitchock’s Rear Window, North by Northwest, To Catch a Thief and Stanley Donen’s Charade. That three of those movies star my favorite actor, Cary Grant, is pure coincidence—really!
Sadly, when I ponder today’s romantic suspense movies I come up empty-handed, thankfully book-wise that’s not the case.
In the general market J.D. Robb, Jayne Ann. Krentz, Nora Roberts and Shanna McKenna are fan adored writers.
Meanwhile, authors Dee Henderson, Hannah Alexandra, Terri Blackstock, Brandilyn Collins, Colleen Coble, Jill Elizabeth Nelson and Mark Andrew Olsen hold the Christian readership.
Yes, I know Olsen doesn’t write romance, but I love his out of the box plots and superb characters, the same goes for Ted DeKker. What’s there to say about Ted other than he rocks! What I love about Ted is that like myself, he enjoys weaving the supernatural of Almighty God into many of his stories and better yet, he pulls it off.
Oh, I must shamelessly plug the success of my girlfriend and critique partner, Jill Elizabeth Nelson. If you haven’t read Jill’s ‘To Catch a Thief’ series by Multnomah you’re missing a page-turning suspense joy ride.
I just love heart-pounding romantic suspense that has a sprig of humor tossed in to brighten up the bleakness as that’s how I write.
Mind you, my first love will always be historical romance and Sci-Fi fantasy. Sadly, both genres are lagging in the CBA. Yeah, here I sit with a five book proposal for the Emerald Rose series, and not one interested publisher. Sigh.
So what do working authors who’ve yet to establish themselves in a genre do? They write what the market dictates. Of course it helps if you write just about anything, excluding erotica of course. True, there are a few genres I don’t foresee myself writing. Never say never. More important, don’t verbalize said genres names or that too will come back to haunt you.
Upon the wise advice of my wonderful agent, and the burning desire to acquire another publishing contract, I penned a one line blurb that snagged an editor’s attention.
Working title: Chasing Sandra Dee
Pitch: Sandra Dee is running for her life—One tiny glitch she’s legally dead!
From that one-liner came a three book proposal for a romantic suspense series ‘Lost Now Found’ based on an agency that specializes in finding missing folks the authorities have failed to locate, and that includes the very dead.
The other books of the series include: ‘Framing Elvis’ and ‘Lucy I’m Home!’Making the transition from historical to contemporary has proven far simpler than I imagined. Wish I could say the same about the research which has proven more exhaustive. Unlike history the present world is ever changing, especially the technology and crime solving methods. But I hooked up with a great Yahoo group called 'Crime Scene Writers ' and doubt I'd be able to write suspense without their expertise.
Well, I must return to 'Chasing Sandra Dee.'
Now to all writers going through a testing period that's caused you to put your pursuit of publication on the back burner, I encourage you to never give up, and above all, chase your dream! Yeah sure yabetcha!
Saturday, July 22, 2006
There’s a lot of hype in the writing industry to ‘write what you know.’
For the longest time . . .we’re talking years, I hated that persistent rule of thumb. Then one day I had an epiphany. Hey, when it comes to the vital craft of characterization, I do write what I know.
I love how little things we normally shrug off as our boring lives or family oddities find their way onto the pages of our novels. That's because we do write what we know. And I wonder how much of it we do unknowingly?
My dilemma is that I honestly love to write about what I don't know. It’s not only how I learn something new . . . It's just so darn exciting!
However, as important as it is to write about what we know, I think we tend to forget a most important element in the creative equation of storytelling. To write with unadulterated passion.
See the older wiser writer in me totally agrees, "Write what you know, Linda." While the younger, I wanna write something different author--primarily the fantasy writer in me says, "Nay, that’s yawn-inducing." As a fantasy writer I create places that are make-believe and often out of this world. There's a place I rarely visit . . . reality. That pretty much describes me. Ah, I love my second childhood! And yet this fity-three-year-old wife, mother of two and grandmother has tons of life experiences much of it boorish, but a teeny weenie scrape of my life is worth sharing--I think.
This tug of wills comes on the heels of two writing projects. Presently, penning a historical fantasy romance series and completing a contemporary romance based on my healed wounds as a child incest victim, botched scriptwriting attempts, and my Internet Fan Fiction writing. Talk about a weird combination, but I think it works. Alas, we'll let a publisher decide that book's fate. But after forty plus years of silence, I was finally able to address the issue of incest the one way I felt comfortable . . .through fiction. And that book and my fantasy series are being written with intense love and passion.
My point is, that before I started the Lengend of the Emerald Rose fantasy series based on the King Arthurian legend and that chronicles the Stewart/Stuarts of Scotland lineage to present time, I knew zilch about writing fantasy, let alone King Arthur or the Stuarts of Scotland. What I did know, was I love fantasy, Arthurian legend and Scotland. And then I started something I really love . . . Historical research.
What I've learned these past years and I mean this solely regarding moi, is its far more important for me to write what gets me pumped, than what I know or have experienced firsthand. Hence that passion is then transferred from my soul to the keyboard and paper, then to my agent, editor, and eventually to my readers.
Let's be honest. A good writer whether consciously or unconsciously always writes what he/she knows. More often than not, our characters personalities are derived from folks we know upfront and personal, as are many of the situations we drop those characters into inside our books.
And yes, there are always those things we purposely set out to experience to make our stories tangible for the reader. From bungee jumping, scuba diving or burning leaves in order to experience that nippy sweet scent, we should strive to know what we are writing about.
About now I'd give anything to hop into a time-travel machine and visit the 3rd crusade, talk to King Richard the Lion Hearted, sit in Saladin's tent, walk the streets of 12th century Jerusalem or ride a nasty smelling camel. Um, maybe the last one I can make happen . . . or not.
For writers of historical fiction the events we write about are something we don't know firsthand and never will. And yet we write about them because hopefully like myself, most historical writers are passionate about this genre.
I think that trying to experience much of what we write about is definitely important in order to excel in the profession of fiction writing. But most important, if you're not writing something you feel passionate for, you will be found out and your readers will be disappointed.
So don't just write what you know, write what moves you heart, stirs your soul and even on the coldest of dawns, gets your butt out of bed and writing. My hope and desire for all writers is that whatever we write, we write with such passion the readers believe it true.
In Legend of the Emerald Rose one young lordling asked the bard Grat-Telor, "Please, Grat-Telor, amuse us with the legend of King Arthur and Merlin."
"And why wish you hearken to the reminiscence of an old singer of tales?" asked the bard.
"By virtue that you recount with such passion, we almost believe it true."
So here's my two-cents worth. Writing what we know is the skeletal frame required to support our stories. But fiery, unadulterated passion is the heart surging blood that gives our stories life.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Back peddle to Saturday – July 9th, when I attended my first garden party, actually my first Christy Award banquet. A banquet I’d heard many a fishwives tale about, dreamt about, but never expected to attend—least of all—as a finalist in the Visionary Category. My heart was in maximum overdrive and my palms sweat. No, I wasn’t a train wreck, but I felt excited, unworthy and yet hopeful. Just ask my agent, Wendy Lawton, who repeatedly patted my clammy hands and soothed me with encouraging words, which for the life of me I can’t recall, except for the most important ones, “Remember, Linda, no matter the outcome you’re already a winner!”
Dearest Wendy, you were . . . are right. I am a winner, and not just for being a finalist in this prestigious contest. Even if most of the evening buzzed by me as a muddled haze, I’ll always remember my first Christy banquet. I’ll remember the hum of excited voices, the familiar and not so familiar faces. The numerous well wishes and, “I’m praying for you,” comments.
Meanwhile, the array of fashion statements that spanned from one finalist’s simplistic blue skirt and white blouse to Brandilyn’s infamous emerald sequined gown, that latter of which, I coveted for an entire five seconds until I admitted my generous endowed body would never do her beautiful gown justice.
And I’ll never forget when a pair of strong warm arms embraced me from behind only to be surprised by girlfriend Donita K. Paul, who I didn’t expect to see that night. I will not forget every one of you in ACFW who cheered me on before and after and banquet ended.
And I will always remember when a certain high profiled author hugged me and whispered, “You should have won.” Her caring remark touched my heart in the most healing way, because I knew she meant it.
I won’t forget Kregel’s acquisition editor, Dennis Hillman’s generous praise regarding LER or his walking stick umbrella that made him look quite British. I won’t forget Angela Hunt’s (whom I adore), fashionable late entrance that brought her to adorn our table. Nor the two Parable store retailers who during the unforgettable delicious meal that I didn't eat, asked Angie and moi how they should pitch our novels/novel (LOL) to their customers.
I didn’t know what I was eating, apparently broccoli, let alone how to answer their question. I looked densely at Angela who with her red hair was beautiful in her white dress and then I blurted, “Um, I’ve got nothing.”
Angie winked at me as if totally aware of the upheaval I was experiencing. She proceeded to calmly answer them and, good golly Miss Molly, she said what I would have said, were I of sound mind. To which I replied, “Ditto. Thanks, Angie!”
Mostly, after all was said and done, I won’t forget the humble appreciation God put upon this writer’s heart. Like every finalist at the banquet, I really wanted that first place award. I even sat there rehearsing my fifteen-second speech—yeah, that’s what my agent and Camy Tang highly suggested I limit myself too. D’oh! reality check! Unless I was totally zoned-out, not one winner spoke under a minute. LOL Then again, they know I’m not short on breath when it comes to yapping.
I didn’t win first place. And that’s okay. God knows better than anyone what I need and don’t need. The moment the MC read a line from the winning novel, I snapped out of my self-induced fog. I had prayed for God’s will to be done. It was. I then relaxed and gave Him the glory and thanks. I later recalled how, ‘Thanks’ was the ongoing theme that evening. How every winner including our keynote speaker, Bret Lott, thanked those responsible for she/he being brought to this place for the recognition of excellence in Christian fiction. Above all, each gave God their heartfelt praise and appreciation.
Over this past year, I have come to realize that receiving all the awards and nominations in the world doesn’t mean a hill of beans if we don’t grow from said experience and I’m not talking about our egos. They seem to grow just fine even without additional fertilization of contracts, nominations and awards. Speaking for myself of course. Grin
Besides gratitude to God almighty if I’ve gained anything, it awareness of the amazing support base of friends and family I have in ACFW and beyond. Thanks to each and every one of you, especially those who read LER and sent me feedback.
Now if I might further digress, (which I will) I want to share that in all honesty, the greatest highlight of my CBA experience was none of the above, not even walking the massive convention center staring in awe at the magnificent publisher booths or spotting and speaking to some of the Christian artists, whose music I listen to regularly.
It happened during the Sunday evening of worship sitting an elderly couple of retailers that brought me to my knees that included listening to Philip Yancey. Now let me share that the cause of this humbling experience was a worship talker that can distract and annoy me to no end. He was not an overt talker, but there were enough, “You say it, brother! God be praised!” And, “Yes, yes!” to make me silently mouth, “Great guns, I’m stuck with a, ‘talker.’”
Well after this amazing worship service ended, the little white-haired man turned to me and asked, “And what is your name?”
“Linda,” I said, swinging my purse strap over my shoulder.
He then grabbed my hand and pumping hard, said, “Well, Linda, God has asked me to speak a word over you.”
Never having experienced this before, I gulped, fearing the worst, like the negative thoughts I’d had toward this sweet little man.
“Linda, you have found great favor in God’s sight. He takes pleasure in your sincere praise and He blesses you beyond measure.”
All I could say was, “Um, gee, thanks,” as he hugged then released me.
Speechless, I nervously glanced at my new friend, Susanne Scheppmann who had heard the exchange. To my chagrin, she shrugged and said, “Whoa! And here I was complaining because he was a talker.”
“Yeah,” I admitted, “Same here.” I decided to speak with the man further, but when I turned back, he and his wife were gone. Susanne and I exchanged baffled looks. Strange, but for the moment I couldn’t help but wonder if they were angels. J
That instant, I concluded that no matter what I did in this world--even writing for God’s glory, only one-thing matters to Jesus, and that’s the condition of my heart.
Later that evening the CC artist group, Los Lonely Boys, sang their hit song, ‘How far is Heaven.’ Amidst clapping at half a beat off, and singing off-key I found myself in tears. For even though my present journey is proving to be incredible, I’ll trade every moment for Heaven.
Although always on a learning curve, I’m striving to be more content with whatever God gives me, which despite being cliché, mean our life on earth is about the individual journey that God takes us on. And, as for the destination well, for all of us here, hopefully that also is Heaven.
A Garden Party Review by: Linda Wichman
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Yep that verse from one of my favorite CCM groups, 'Casting Crowns,' pretty much sums up who I am in this vast sea of infinite possibilities and yet, I say this with unrelenting hope, because God continually tells me exactly who I am.
I am His!
The hopeless romantic that I am, hopes whoever reads my ramblings, rants and praises, first does some legwork and visits my website and bio. That way, I won’t bore you with back-story of who I am, and why I write fiction novels, presently historical fantasy romances with a Biblical worldview.
I plan to be myself in this writer’s journal. No sugarcoating, unless I happen to be wearing rose-tinted glasses, which can happen to the best of us. This means you’ll get a candid view of Linda Wichman the wife-lover, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and first-time grandmother. More importantly, I hope you find I am someone you can relate to and interact with.
If you read my bio, you know I am a born-again Christian and I don’t wear the title as a gratuitous hood ornament. I make no excuses or apologies for my faith. For with Christ Jesus I can accomplish all things! But without Him I am totally and royally screwed! Yep, it’s that simple. Still, other than being in a personal relationship with the most fantastic, supernatural Keeper of the Stars – otherwise known as Yahweh or Jesus Christ, I’m no different than anybody else on this amazing orbiting orb we call earth. I’m still a sinner who daily makes mistakes, some of them repeatedly. The difference is I have accepted Jesus Christ’s free gift of salvation. I am free of the condemnation that leads others to eternal damnation. Yep, I’m free as an un-caged bird and loving it!
Now, chill, there won’t be any Bible thumping, overbearing in-your-face preaching. That’s not the way Jesus shared his love, nor is it mine. But because God is an intricate part of my existence like breathing and eating, I will share what He’s doing in my life—including the highs and low, and how He loves me where I’m at, even on my bad hair days.
My sincere hope is that by seeing Jesus in me, others will crave the unconditional love and peace I have found through an eternal love affair of my soul that God offers to each and every one of us.
Wow, I’ve no clue where this blog is headed. I originally wanted this to be about the craft of writing, creating, editing, etc., yet, that’s what the majority of published/unpublished writers do when we blog—we yap writing—which is primarily of interest to writers. A humongous, exasperating yawn . . .enough said. Still, I’m no philosopher and won’t attempt such non-fiction exasperations, which give me a headache.
Oh, and if every now and then, I quote one of my favorite television characters, General Jack O'Neill, from Stargate SG-1, deal with it. . .coz everyone else has to. VBG
I hope not only writers and readers skim my musings, but anyone trying to stuff their God-made hole with everything in this world but Who is meant to seal up that void—Jesus Christ.
Oy! A light-bulb moment! Even if you never chose God to be the master of your life, you will indubitably know that when you stumbled across my Blog and met little old me, you met God—because His Holy Spirit lives within my God-shaped hole thus, revealing Himself to you through me. Awesome!
Yeah, that’s about as philosophical as I get.
Aren't you lucky.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
A note of forewarning to whoever reads my first Tongue-in-Cheek Blog.
I am not a cynic by nature.
In fact, most folks who know me -- especially well, know that 99% of the time I see the cup half-full and I'm often first inline to try anything new. Adventuresome to a fault. However, I wanted to be upfront about my core response last December when I was asked, advised, then told it'd be wise for me to blog. That's when I wrote, then filed away said-response. I never expected I'd have the nerve to post this, let along in my own blog.
Yet here it is. Gulp. Please be assured, I do not intend to offend any fellow/sister bloggers, especially those ACFW and RWA authors and writers who encouraged me to blog. On the other hand, I suspect I am expressing what many bloggers felt before they actually started to enjoy blogging.
If I could point the finger at anyone for revealing this razor-witted side of me, it would be Ronie Kendig a sister-writer who, after I read this response to her said, "You go blog, girl!" So here you are, Ronie, my first not too enthusasitic blog!
"Blah, blah, blah, blah . . .” Ah, yes, the unforgettable cerebral wisdom of grownups according to the adolescent cast of, Peanuts.
Anyone who doesn’t remember the memorable Charles M. Schulz’s creation of the Peanuts comics strip and its syndicated television specials dwells within the deepest black hole of The Twilight Zone. That brilliant voice clip is my literal response to the newest fad of blogging.
Okay, so blogging has been around awhile. Which makes me ask how long does a fad exist before it's no longer a fad? Scratches head, mind begins to wander . . . No, no, don't go there! I have enough A.D.D. issues on my dinner plate. See how easily I get distracted. Focus, Linda! Blogs, sure okay. Where was I?
Oh, yeah . . . For the life of me, this eternal optimist turned cynic with regards to blogs. I mean, even my spell checker won’t recognize the word or any version there of. Oh, wait, maybe because I’ve yet to fork out the extra cash for an upgraded word-processing program. D'oh! That aside, here I am, folks, blogging, which is my euphemism for everything you didn't want to know about this blogger but eventually will, if you read my rambling blog.
Which reminds me of the television emergency announcement we have to repeatedly endure. “This is test of the Emergency Broadcasting System. If this were an actual emergency, you would be advised to blah, blah, blah . . .” And then comes the annoying ear-piercing sound bite. That’s my take on blogs.
Now don’t go ballistic. I know the definition of euphemism.
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines, euphemism: the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant; also: the expression so substituted, blah, blah. Which for many folks and myself pretty much covers our sentiments about blogging and yet here I am blogging. D'oh!
It took me five dictionary searches to find the new fandangle word in Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary 11th edition. Blog: A frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links.
Let’s face it, everyone and his third-cousin-twice-removed has a blog, including extraterrestrials and my friend’s fuzzy, wuzzy hamster. Oh, pleeez don’t get me started on that last one. I highly suspect that if Charles Schulz still graced our presence Snoopy and the Red Baron would have syndicated blogs.
So why on God’s green earth would this blog cynic write a web log? Simple. I am a writer and secondly, I’m a curious sort with the mindset that one should never harshly judge some thing not experienced firsthand. Or in the words of that overused cliché’, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, is appropriate since I write novels.
So here I stand, um, sit. Taking that leap of faith that someone actually cares what I think or believe. I only hope no one asks me how to setup a blog, because I am going where I've never gone before . . .into the vast unexplored universe of blogging. Help!! I'm blog-illiterate and techinically-challenged.
Take for instance, comprehending the user-friendly guidelines on this blog site. I don't care how friendly the site, I'm left-handed and right-brained which means, I'm winging it on a song and a prayer. By the way I can't sing, but I do pray--A lot!
So, now that I’ve exhausted my precautious thoughts about public journaling, I suppose you expect me to share something significantly profound?
"Er--um," Clears throat, "Blah, blah, blah . . ."
PS: If you actually noted, then counted, all the bold-highlighted blog words, you are a blog addict and a prime candidate to become a wierd but likeable character in one of my non-cynical novels.
May God bless us all, especially, we the cynical but hopeful--romantic bloggers.