It’s been awhile since I talked about where I stand in terms of my manuscripts. My first completed novel, WHISPERS IN THE CANYON, is being queried, and the second, THE WOODSMAN’S ROSE, has gone through my edits and is now with my extremely helpful critique partners. I’m also just finishing up my final edit of the third manuscript, entitled RAINBOW MAN. It’s not quite ready for the beta readers yet.
good GREAT news is with my fourth novel in the Donovan Family Saga. THE WINDS OF MORNING is actually a “pre-quel”, and tells the story of Molly and John Patrick’s emigration to America just after the Potato Famine of 1847-1851. It’s told in four parts: their meeting and marriage in Ireland; their trip across the sea to Philadelphia; and their journey first south to Terminus (now Atlanta), then west to Texas.
PART 1 IS DONE!!!
This is a huge accomplishment for me. I started writing this story about two years ago and I got to a certain point and simply could not decide where to go from there. I knew I had to get the Donovans to America, but I also knew that if I followed them every step of the way, I’d have a 1,000-page book. That’s where I broke it off and started working on revising and re-editing the first two books (which at that time were one book, but that’s another story!)
The problem wasn’t writer’s block, per se. I was fully capable of writing new scenes in the other 3 books, and even some scenes for the book after this one, as well as the book that will, someday, close the series out. I even wrote a couple of scenes that will appear later in THE WINDS OF MORNING. In short, I just suffered from a lack of direction for this particular situation.
I finally solved it by a stroke of luck. I was reading another historical family saga and the author simply skipped over a few years. That’s right, just skipped them. The first part was labeled 1697, the second part 1705. As soon as I saw that second date, I had my answer. I could simply skip over the years when nothing (or almost nothing) changes in Molly and John Patrick’s lives.
My conclusion? Those who say the best way to write better is to read more are absolutely right! If I hadn’t been reading another author’s novel, I could have been stuck for even longer.
How about you? Did another writer’s work ever influence your work-in-progress? ever give you an idea that you had searched high and low for? ever pulled you out of the blue funk of not knowing what to do next? I’d love to know I’m not alone in this, so feel free to share your stories with me …
UPDATE 03/11/20: Having been so involved in getting the first three books ready for publication, I’ve decided to release Part 1 of THE WINDS OF MORNING as a novella. Perhaps I’ll follow it up with some short stories to make a novel-length book.