Evangeline Holland

Sweeping Drama ⚜ Larger than Life History ⚜ Exquisite Romance ⚜ Diverse Perspectives
November 7th, 2012

NaNoWriMo at a Change

The objective of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words between November 1-30. It’s mostly for fun, for the people who’ve always wanted to write a novel but never found the time or courage to do so. However, over the years it has slightly morphed into a time where aspiring authors whip out the first half (or majority of the book, depending on projected word count) of their novel in hopes of publication. Because of this small change in agenda, coupled with the rise of self-publishing, there’s a new pressure to perform during this month.

I joined Savvy Author’s Entangled Publishing Smackdown because I liked the challenge they offered as well as the chance to get a pitch in front of an editor’s eyes. I did all of the preliminary work in late October, and would have been prepared to dive in had I not had the task of revising my manuscript, The Townsend Inheritance. That bled into the first week of NaNoWriMo and I didn’t realize how much energy I expended in writing 6-10k words for seven days straight!! I though that a quick rest over the weekend would be the ticket, but as I entered this week, the words came ugly and sluggishly.

Ay me!, as Juliet exclaims.

I forced out a few hundred words today before I set the MS aside to clear my brain. It also didn’t help that my crazed writing week resulted in a small cold since I was literally running on one or two meals a day in a chilly house–my shoulders, arms and hands also forgot to thank me, lol. Since NaNoWriMo is all about the rah-rah push through the troubled spots/boredom/horrible writing, I was reluctant to admit defeat, especially after writing that epic manuscript and I didn’t want to let my team down. But I felt backed a bit into a corner and couldn’t see a way out unless I chucked the pitch and did something else. That wasn’t an option–my damnable pride!–and so I went to sleep for a few hours (and last night was not fun for me at all). When I awoke I checked Twitter on my phone and saw a listing for an upcoming film on TCM that was set during WWI.

I’m not shy about filching some of my best ideas from my beloved classic films, and I mulled over the premise of that movie for a bit. Even though I’m not normally an angsty writer, I do love the emotions that war or harrowing situations can bring to a romance novel, and based on the premise of my original pitch, this element was missing from the book. In fact, I could have easily shifted the setting to the pre-war years and it wouldn’t have mattered at all. Yet, as we all know, the historical setting should be vital to a historical novel and being able to shift it around shows a bit of a structural weakness. But that’s just my opinion. Anyways, I scribbled down a few ideas to make this plot my own and then realized that the conflict between my protagonists in my original pitch was workable with this new plot–I didn’t have to start from scratch with new characters at all.

Now some may see this as cheating, since you’re supposed to get “crap” on the page no matter what, but I’m seeking publication for this MS and it would defeat the purpose of my writing career to plow on with a book that doesn’t work instead of seeing how to make it work, and within a deadline. What about you? Do you use NaNoWriMo differently since you’re seeking publication? Or do you just go with the spirit of the month-long writing fest?

October 23rd, 2012

Pushing Boundaries, Shedding Preconceptions

As a writer, we’re taught to think in labels: “I write Regency romances,” “I write alpha heroes,” “I write dark and angsty,” etc. It makes it easy to market our books–and ourselves–to readers so that those in search of alpha heroes or angsty romances know to whom they can turn for that type of book. The labels I’ve always proudly worn were those proclaiming “I write heroine-centric romances” and “I write Edwardian/WWI historicals”, and I’ve done my best not to deviate from them. This past year has wrung me through the wringer, writing-wise, and I feel as though each and every preconception and boundary I set myself has been squeezed from the fabric of my being.

It’s been painful and bewildering because labels are useful things, they let you know where you stand, they push you into a “tribe” so to speak, they don’t offer any surprises that will catch you off guard. As a writer seeking traditional publication, labels act as a tourniquet against your publisher experiencing unexpected hemorrhages of money. Yet, clinging tightly to my preconceptions end up choking the life from my writing before it’s even had a chance to poke its first buds from the soil. And the 800+ pages I’ve written on the same book is proof of my not wanting to relinquish my labels.

As I began to outline my NaNo novel, the instinctive reaction to whip out my labels and attach them to this MS was strong even though the story kept shifting away from them. I spent a few hours trying to whip the outline in the shape I wanted it to make, and then it was like a light bulb went off in my head: the characters create the story, not my own preconceptions, and the primary protagonist is the character who a) has the most at stake and b) will experience the most growth. So here I am trying to make this story about my heroine, when it is really about my hero! For a brief moment I felt bereft–was I all wrong about myself? Did I just assume I was a heroine-centric writer? But then the other book I have planned popped in my head–that’s heroine-centric.

Duh!

So the moral of the story kids, is that my sole purpose is to tell a damn good story and not to try to force them to fit me.

October 9th, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Till We Meet Again

What is your working title of your book?

Till We Meet Again

Where did the idea come from for the book?

From an old Constance Bennett film, Born to Love.

What genre does your book fall under?

Romantic Historical Fiction

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Keira Knightley for Fleur and Max Irons for Ivor

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Trapped in an abandoned French farmhouse during an air raid, Ambulance driver Fleur Demorest and Lieutenant Ivor Carlyle indulge in one night of passion, only for tragedy to strike. Three years later, they meet again under entirely different circumstances, and must fight for their love amidst the carnage of war, forgotten memories, and societal pressures.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have an agent, and hope to have it traditionally published.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m working on the first draft right now. Hopefully, it won’t be as arduous a process as my previous book.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That’s a tough one! Perhaps Judith Kinghorn’s lovely romantic novel The Last Summer, due to the angsty romance and scope of the plot.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to move a bit beyond the typical image of women in wartime–mainly, that of the VAD nurse–so my heroine is an ambulance driver. Next, I began to wonder how a woman who tasted independence coped once she made the worst sin possible in the early twentieth century: have a baby out of wedlock. Lastly, I wanted to create a big whopping conflict between Fleur and Ivor, and a secret baby was it!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s the best of both worlds: grand, passionate romance and the harrowing emotions of WWI!

Tagged: (for week of Oct 14-20)

Christina Lasswell

Tasha Taylor

Samantha Veerasamy

Christy McKellen

Message for the tagged authors and interested others:
Rules of the Next Big Thing
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag three-five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
Be sure to line up your five people in advance.