Sunday blessings on you all! Independence Day has come and gone, and now we’re settling in for the dog days of summer. If you’re a curious sort, as I am, you may wonder where that term came from. It conjures images of hot, sweaty dogs panting and searching for shade to me, but the Romans, who coined the phrase dies caniculares, did so because the bright star Sirius—part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog—rose in concert with the sun for two months in the summer, and they thought it added to the heat. So now you know.
Because there was no way to safely managed the crowds with my unsteady but healing knee, we stayed home and watched the fireworks on TV. The Boston Pops had an extravaganza that was broadcast on Bloomberg, and I’m telling you, it was spectacular. From the music, to the guests, to the message of unity and inclusion, to the impressive fireworks, everything was pitch perfect. I was especially impressed with the inaugural national youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman. Her poem, set to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, blew me away. Definitely treat yourself and watch it. I daresay she’s going to become a household name soon enough.
It was a good work week, too, though a bit jagged around the edges. I wrapped up my #1000wordsofsummer participation with 13,000 words in 14 days, which I was thrilled with. I settled on a solid idea and wrote up a few scenes, and retitled the book’s working title to match. I was feeling pretty good about things. And the next morning, I opened Publisher’s Marketplace to see a sale announcement—for the exact same story concept, and the EXACT SAME TITLE.
This happens more than you can imagine. With all these creative minds plugged into the zeitgeist, it’s hard not to generate the same sort of ideas. Granted, everyone’s take on this general concept would be different, but the broad strokes were just too similar to my idea, so I had to change it. Trust me, I wasn’t thrilled.
Y’all know I’ve been watching authors on the Master Class (leave me a comment if you’d like a discounted pass…). I put on Baldacci’s class, and DH and I started to watch. I got frustrated pretty quickly, because in the beginning sections, he was saying things I already knew. The problem was my story had just been yanked out from under me, not that I needed to do more research. This is no knock to Baldacci, the class is great and clearly helped. We hit pause about 50 times as I talked it out with DH and my notebook. I grumbled. I complained. I knew I was circling something, but I couldn’t land on it. We tossed around a couple of ideas that felt possible, and I slept on it.
Sure enough, I woke up with an even bigger concept, and the first lines of the proposal. How to tell the story. What the story really was. The underlying theme, the moral question, the villain’s motives, all of it. I changed the name of a main character, and boom went the dynamite. I wrote up the proposal, and will submit it tomorrow.
Listen, there are only 7 plots. Every story is derivative of these 7 plots. (Tangentially, there are only 10 types of female energy, per this twitter thread...) How you tell an original story is in your voice, your treatment, your structure, your characters. Settings, too, play a large role. Unless a concept has quite literally been done to death, a fresh take on a classic tale will always, always sell.
I’m off to Thrillerfest this week (assuming I’m cleared to travel Tuesday, of course.) I hope to see some of you in New York!
Let’s take a look at the links!
Here's what happened on the Internets this week:
So stoked to see GOOD GIRLS LIE is a Publishers Weekly editors' pick for Fall 2019 titles!
A library of one's own: Meet the man who owns 12,000 books. Can you even imagine? This makes me curious about how many books I own…I’m going to guess I’m in the 4,000 range.
Barnes and Noble Bought by Hedge Fund. Major news, if you missed it. I’m curious to see what shakes out here.
Use Your Calendar to Record What Actually Happened. Superb advice that I follow regularly. It’s a boon at tax time, too, for deducing mileage.
What’s On These Local Author’s Summer Reading Lists. Including yours truly. I had a hard time narrowing down my list! Also, if you’re not reading the Nashville Edit, you should be.
The Norwegian island that abolished time: 'You can cut the lawn at 4am.' I kind of love this idea. Not necessarily sunlight 24/7 for three months, but the idea that time is irrelevant. Because really, it is.
What Makes The Perfect Book Club Read? We Asked 3 Experts. Great advice for anyone who is thinking about starting a book club.
Sarah Haywood Shares Advice For New Writers. A lovely, encouraging essay.
Wine of the Week at The Wine Vixen… a white, for once!
What I’m Reading:
LAST SUMMER by Kerry Lonsdale
Here’s the best beach read of the summer! LAST SUMMER is out Tuesday and it’s a captivating page-turner of a suspense. You need it! I think Kerry is a superb writer. She knows how to build characters.
What are you reading?
That’s all for now. Donate three things to your favorite local charity (don’t forget the animal shelter- they LOVE old towels!), cut some hydrangea for your kitchen counter, clean your desk, and I’ll see you next week!
peace and hugs,