Friday, April 14, 2017

Guest Post Author-Elena Hartwell

My review with Giveaway is at My Journey Back Click Here


The Life of a Novelist, When it Rains it Pours by Elena Hartwell

To say it has rained a lot in Western Washington this year is an understatement. It’s the first week of April and the rain gauge at my house in North Bend shows just under twenty-seven inches since the start of the year. That’s a lot of water. When it rains, it pours.

Did you know the original expression, “it never rains but it pours,” was from England and considered negative? It meant bad things happen in clumps. But then in 1911, the Morton Salt Company came up with a solution to salt clumping together from any amount of moisture in the air by making finer grains and adding a small amount of an anti-clumping agent. Their clever ad team came up with, “when it rains, it pours” – meaning even when the rain is coming down, our salt still pours. That’s why the little girl on the label stands in the rain under an umbrella. It became a positive expression in the US.

Yet here we are over one hundred years later and most people consider the expression negative again, even in the United States.

Personally, I’ve always thought it was contextual. Sometimes good things happen all at once and sometimes bad.

Writing is a lot like that expression. When it rains, it pours, sometimes in a good way, some times not so much.

As a playwright, a single play of mine would get produced at different theaters with different outcomes. One production might earn stellar reviews, while another got bashed by the local press. I’d be touted as a brilliant voice in theater in one state and read, “don’t quit your day job” in another.

When it rains, it pours.

As a novelist, I’ve had very good reviews for my first novel. One Dead, Two to Go garnered several four- and five-star reviews on Amazon and some fantastic reviews on blogs and magazines. Two Heads are Deader Than One started out with two five-star reviews before it officially launched on April 15.

In a very short space of time, One Dead was nominated for a Foreword INDIE award for best mystery of 2016 and Two Heads was picked up by Harlequin for inclusion in their Worldwide Mystery Series. This means they will reprint the original Camel Press publication and that reprint will go out to Harlequin subscribers and be available on their website.

When it rains it pours.

The writing process can feel a lot like a long, wet winter. For the most part, I love writing. I enjoy sitting down at my computer and working on my latest draft. My characters entertain me. I discover interesting new things in my plot. I also love the research aspects. I get to meet with amazing experts, who provide me with details of careers and areas of life I’ve always been curious about. Working with my beta readers gives me insights into my own work, great ideas to take into rewrites, and inspiration for reaching the finish line.

But some days, I just wish the sun would come out. One more round of notes feels like a slog. I wake up and think, I’m ready to work on the next book, why isn’t this manuscript finished? And I look out the window and it’s raining again.

When it rains, it pours.

I’m often asked how long it took to get my first book published. The answer depends on where you want to start measuring. The short answer is I pitched One Dead, Two to Go to one publisher, they picked it up a month later, and in a year and a half it was on the shelf. The more complicated answer is I started writing my first novel in 2007 and three manuscripts, hundreds of rewrites, and several rejections later, my first novel was published April 15, 2016. Nine years later. The most complicated answer is I started writing when I was about four. I even hand stitched a book together complete with tassels when I was six. I wrote for the theater for twenty years, with wonderful productions interspersed with hundreds of rejections and then spent years learning how to write fiction, until finally, at the age of forty-seven, my first book came out, so call it forty-three years. But by 2018, I’ll have three books out.

When it rains, it pours.

Many readers believe the most important thing a successful writer needs is talent. I would argue it’s tenacity. The difference between the published and unpublished author is often that the published author endured one more rejection than the unpublished author. They sent their manuscript one more place. Rewrote their manuscript one more time. Read one more book on craft or went to one more conference, where they participated in one more workshop, met one more agent or pitched to one more editor. The published author went out in the rain and got wet one more time than the writer who didn’t.

When it rains, it pours.

Even a published author isn’t guaranteed a career. The second book might never get finished. The publisher might go out of business. The editor could retire. The reviews might be terrible and the contract ends. The only thing a writer can control is the writing. Just as we here in Western Washington can’t control the weather, we can only decide what to do with it. Do we go out and live our life, mud or no mud? Or not. Does the writer go out and write, failure or no failure? Or not.

The only thing I know for sure, is when I go downstairs into the kitchen, while taking a break from my current draft, the Morton Salt will pour, even with moisture in the air.

When it rains, it pours.

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