Thank you for having me, Pat. It’s always an honor to be a guest on your wonderful blog!
Chances are, as a writer, you have an old manuscript tucked away in a desk drawer, or among the deeply embedded folders in the hard drive of your computer, that every once in while calls out to you. Certain scenes—ones with clever prose, or well-done humor—will cross your mind every so often. You know there’s just something about that manuscript . . . but there it sits, untouched, unedited, unpublished.
When I started Bobbing for Watermelons, my first attempt at a novel, back in 2004, I had no clue what I was doing, but thanks to my critique group, I soldiered on. In 2008, it became a Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold finalist, but even then, it needed work (as evidenced by the mounting rejections I continued to accumulate). I set it aside and began a new project. Over the years I thought about it, even swearing I’d heard it call to me through my laptop speakers. I’m pretty sure it was my main character, Helen, telling me she was tired of being ignored. By last year, she was really fed up and screamed at me to pay attention.
So I did.
During a three-day writing retreat through the Northern Colorado Writers, I edited the first third of the book. I spent a lot of that time cringing, embarrassed I had actually sent it to agents. At the same time, I was pleased to see how far I’d come in the ten years of studying the craft of writing. Putting that much distance between myself and the manuscript gave me new perspective; the book wasn’t ready for publication back then and I needed to grow as a writer.
When I started the book, I was around 27 with a six-year-old, and now, I’m closer to my character’s age who also has teenagers. I finally could relate to her, which led to more vivid, realistic scenes that I only guessed at before. At last, I felt the emotions my character would experience in certain situations, and I could convey them in a way that rang true and authentic.
Not only was my goal to write a great novel, but to make it a publishable one as well, so if a section didn’t work, I didn’t bat an eye when cutting it out. I deleted scenes, added chapters, and even rewrote the entire last third of the book. Applying the lessons and techniques I’d learned over the years, from being both an avid reader and writer, I ended up with a book I’m very proud of.
I encourage you to unearth an old manuscript, breathe new life into it—perform CPR if necessary—and see what it has to say. My characters usually don’t talk to me—or at least I don’t typically admit they do—but Helen’s voice rang out loud and clear. She wanted her story told, and I knew deep down, so did I.
April is giving away one copy of Bobbing for Watermelons to a U.S. or Canada reader who leaves a comment on today’s post by midnight Mountain Time Saturday, March 21st. The winner’s name will be posted here on Sunday.
April, thanks so much for being my guest today. Can’t wait to read Bobbing for Watermelons.
April J. Moore grew up writing and drawing and continues on both paths, providing illustrations for cards, journals, and books. A love of history, resulted in her first book, Folsom’s 93: The Lives and Crimes of Folsom Prison’s Executed Men and her love of humor and quirky characters, encouraged to write Bobbing for Watermelons. When not writing or illustrating, April is usually enjoying the Colorado sunshine by working in her vegetable garden, kayaking, or hiking, and spends the cold, wintry months curled up with a good book and a mug of tea. Her favorite activities, however, is spending time with her husband, sixteen-year-old son, and ninety-five-pound lap dog.
Bobbing for Watermelons, a work of women’s fiction, is due for release in late March 2015, from Hot Chocolate Press. April’s first book, Folsom’s 93: The Lives and Crimes of Folsom Prison’s Executed Men (Linden Publishing, 2013) is available at Amazon. You can learn more about April at AprilJMoore. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.