Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Ann Shorey

Ann Shorey
Recently I’ve heard from several fellow authors who are staggering under a load of family issues, illnesses, unexpected re-writes, and just general distractions. One thing they all have in common is looming deadlines.

Sounds like 2012 in my house.

My husband’s mother died at the end of February that year, after a lengthy decline. Our home filled with far-flung family members coming for the funeral and to help sort Mom’s belongings between them. My husband was appointed executor.

Five weeks later, my husband (a real estate broker) underwent surgery for a torn rotator cuff. He couldn’t drive for six weeks, and since the real estate business requires lots of driving, I was his chauffeur, both on business, and to physical therapy twice a week. For six weeks.

Fortunately, my next deadline wouldn’t fall until the end of the following January. Lots of time. Then I got sick. And sicker. When January 1, 2013, rolled around, I was 30,000 words short of completing my contracted novel. I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and brain-dead.

I know from talking to other authors and reading their posts that the gut-clench that comes from being so far off the mark isn’t unique to me. So I did what King Hezekiah did in 2 Kings 19:14. I spread my work out before the Lord and prayed for His guidance. Here’s what He led me to do (with my suggestions included):
  1. Most Important: Pray often!
  2. Enlist a prayer partner to walk through the pages with you.
  3. Take the total word count remaining and divide it between the number of days left. I don’t mean all the days of the month, because you should take a bit of time to check in with your family and attend church, if nothing else. So, in my case, 30,000 divided by 26 came out to around 1,100 words per day. No problem, right? Unless the brain-dead issue comes in.
  4. Using a legal pad, I sketched out all the plot points that needed to be resolved by the end of the novel to be sure I didn’t leave any hanging threads. A legal pad may not work for you—whatever you use for note-taking would be fine.
  5. I then arranged these plot points in their proper order. Point A needs to happen before Point B in order for Point C to make sense. Take time to think these points through to their logical conclusions. You may surprise yourself with some previously overlooked scenes.
  6. Force yourself to stay at your keyboard until the day’s word count is completed. 
  7. Share each completed chapter with your prayer partner for critique and encouragement.
  8. Repeat Numbers 6 and 7 until you type “The End.”
This was some of the hardest writing I’d ever done, but at the same time the most rewarding. The Lord should have been listed on the cover of the book as my co-author because ideas flowed from His Creativity to my struggling brain.

If you’re in a similar hard writing place right now, let me testify that God is faithful. He does answer the prayers of his loved ones. Love’s Sweet Beginning is the result.

PS: My editor said this was her favorite book of the series. If she only knew . . .
About the Author
ANN SHOREY has been a story collector for most of her life, and has been a full-time writer for over twenty years. Her writing has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul, and in the Adams Media Cup of Comfort series. She made her fiction debut with The Edge of Light, Book One in the At Home in Beldon Grove series, which released in January 2009. The final book in the series, The Dawn of a Dream, released in April, 2011. Her latest, the Sisters at Heart series, debuted in January, 2012, with Where Wildflowers Bloom. The third book in that series, Love’s Sweet Beginning, released in February of 2014. She’s tempted to thank Peet’s coffee and Dove chocolates when she writes the acknowledgments for her books.

When she’s not writing, she teaches classes on historical research, story arc, and other fiction fundamentals at regional conferences. She lives with her husband in southern Oregon.

Ann loves to hear from her readers, and may be contacted through her website, www.annshorey.com, which also contains her blog, http://annshorey.blogspot.com/ or find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AnnShorey.
Love's Sweet Beginning
by Ann Shorey


What will it take for a once-privileged young woman to make her way in the world?
It isn’t Cassie Haddon’s fault that she has reached the age of twenty-five without possessing any useful skills. Until the War Between the States, she always had servants. Since then, she and her mother have been forced to rely on family to care for them. But now the well of human kindness has run dry—and Cassie must find work to support them. Unfortunately, leaving the past behind is easier said than done, and Cassie must summon all of her courage and wits to convince local restaurateur and grocer Jacob West that she’s exactly what he needs.