Thursday, October 2, 2008

What A Stinker!

Before I go on my odorous way, I’d like to congratulate everyone who finaled, placed and won in this year’s Genesis and Book of the Year contests!! Without these contests -- and so many others – where would our talent gauges lie? I’m blessed and honored to be counted as one of the sisterhood of Seekers, a group of fine ladies whose warm and loving personalities lull many a formidable opponent into a false sense of superiority in the contest arena. Goodness only knows I’ve slinked away often enough. Yay to you, Cara, Debby, Mary, Camy!! ‘Twas your moments to shine : )

Okay, getting back to ol’ stinky, here.

So, have you ever had a really hot streak in contests? I mean, placing in every chapter contest that hosts your category, getting requests right and left, thinking you hold the hottest 300 pages of fiction in history??

Well, okay, maybe a little over the top with the history stuff, but still, for your genre, your entry has become a title to reckon with. You’re on first name basis with a dozen editors. They all request full manuscripts. You are on top of the world. And then. . ..

“Thank you for taking the time to submit your work. . .”

“. . .hard work and good critique groups do wonders for. . .”

“. . .sorry, this just isn’t what we publish.”

And those are some of the tame ones.

Was it something I said??
I promise I took a shower before my editor appointment.
Of course I passed on the pickled herring on garlic bread. . ..

And so the saga goes. Can anyone relate??

Of course you can. And being the smart writers that you are, after the customary wallowing-in-pity time, you set out on a path to find out the truth. Why do contest judges love my stuff, editors say they’re excited about it, yet rejection letters keep finding their way to Plateau Road??

My problem, I’ve decided, is all in the romance. You see, I’m a romance purist. I’ve never cheated on romance with Sci-Fi or Mainstream Fiction. Uh, uh, if there wasn’t attraction, love and happily ever after, I had little to do with it. And therein lay my problem.

I’m predictable. I’m boring. I’m (dare I admit) cliche.

So, behind the closed doors of my home office, I began a summer affair. And you know what I discovered? There are other authors out there that write really good books in some of the most unlikely genres!

Through all my clandestine dabbling, I seemed most drawn to legal thrillers. How far from romance can you get then deep in the pages of garbled psycho-analysis the likes Perry Mason only dreamed of? Wow, I found enough twists and turns in some of those creations to convolute Romeo and Juliet to kingdom come! And in an odd way, I learned about character development in a fashion I would never have thought of trying. I learned to dig deeper. I learned how to make the insignificant, significant. I learned to remember facts and use them later. Most of all, I learned how to make every detail, every scene count.

Pacing, foreshadowing, tone – I see them all in a different light.

Who says God doesn’t have a plan for us?

God had a plan for this writer and implemented it while I thought I was on vacation. I didn’t need Zest soap or Tic Tacs to be fresh, I needed to go back to Writing 101 and learn to look at fiction from a different perspective.

I’ve got a new book filling files on my computer.
I’m saving precious dollars for entry fees.
I’m watching the calendar for Genesis 2009 to roll around : )

See you there!!

Blessings to all,


Tina M. Russo said...

Ah the refreshing time. Yes. I need one myself. A new perspective. I am attempting to stand on my head as we speak.

Welcome back from hiatus, Audra.

Pass the baklava!!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Wow, it sounds like you've learned a lot of great stuff! Nothing like a fresh perspective to give you insight.

And I will give my advice: Never, ever give up! Rarely is it easy to find the right editor at the right moment.

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Audra. I have missed you this summer.
We need to have a parade, maybe a marching band.
Fireworks. :)
And I think you're really smart to jump into a different pool. I've written everything under the sun. Mostly romance in different genres, historical, police drama, action adventure, spy thrillers, sweet contemporaries, also middle grade novels.
I just always wrote to entertain myself and finally, finally FINALLY someone liked what they saw.
Good for you for branching out.

Julie Lessman said...


Goodness, we've missed you, girlfriend!!

Beautiful post. Beautiful lesson. Beautiful writing.

And, YES, we darn well better "see you there" next year, sweetie, or we will show you the true meaning of a big "stink"!!

Love ya,

Audra Harders said...

LOL, ah the world of early risers : ) You're right, Tina and Melanie, perspective is what it's all about. I think I had dug a rut so deep, all I saw was formulaic writing looming ahead of me. So now my writing is all over the place. Somewhere there has to be a happy middle : )

I always knew you were a writer for all seasons, Mary : ) I missed you guys, too. I'm hoping my new perspective continues to allow more me/writing time rather than the other noise in life to take over.

Baklava? Yum! Haven't tried that yet, but I've come up with a killer apple strudel receipe!!!

Audra Harders said...

Mornin' Julie : )
Made sure to shower this moring, too : )

Didn't think editors published tombs the size of your Passion books, but hey, I'm hooked and there isn't a frivolous word to be found : ) Fine example of out-of-the-rut writing. I loved it.

It's great to get a Seeker fix. I so missed y'all : )

Debby Giusti said...

Audra's back!!! :)

Sounds like you had a productive summer. Sometimes we need to get away from the routine to see something special. You're on fire!!! Woo-hoo!!!

Give more details, okay?

Ruth Logan Herne said...


Hey, top of the mornin' to ya, girlfriend. 'Bout time you mosied on back to these here parts. Been missin' ya somethin' fierce, ya know. We-uns up here in the great state of New York had a hankerin' for some of that Rocky Mountain charm.



You've gotten a wake up call. A smack upside the head, that there is more out there than meets the initial eye.

Good for you, girlfriend! The only way to grow is through attempt and girlfriend, rarely do I see such an incredible gift of wordsmithing like the one the good Lord gave you. And since most of our visitors have figured out by now that I don't hand out loose compliments EVER, I'm here to tell you, this woman's talent makes me want to hide my keyboard and re-make the office (read: cubicle) into a storage room. Yeah. She's that good. Dagnabbit.

Good to have you back, woman. Missed you like crazy. We all did.

Does this mean we get to crack the whip on you, again? Nudge you along...???

Just wondering out loud.

Hey, pass that baklava... Love the stuff. Eleven years of waitressing for Greek restaurant owners gives a girl a distinct taste for good baklava.

And I want the apple strudel recipe. Seriously. It's apple season here in upstate and October, which makes strudel a MUST.

Love you.


Audra Harders said...

Ah Ruthy? It looks like time stopped in Upstate New York. You're still holding a puppy!! Or is that 3rd, 4th generation by now??

I'm so out of touch, I'm glad you're letting me back in to the sandbox to play : ) Hmm sandcakes are okay, but my strudel is the real thing!

There's something about being around you guys that makes me want to write. Good, good vibes. What else to expect? Seekerville = Encouragement, right?

I've got sooooo much to catch up on. . .

Audra Harders said...

Debby, you are on fire, girlfriend!! I love knowing such celebrities! ACFW next year? RWA? Gotta go somewhere to get recharged!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

ACFW is in Denver next year, Audra. NO EXCUSES!!!!!!!

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Audra! So great to "see" you again! Hey, reinventing yourself can be really, really exciting. So glad you're finding fresh perspective and new motivation to crank out the pages. I am living proof that persistence, determination, and a whole lot of faith can make our dreams come true.

Debby Giusti said...

RWA and ACFW sounds good!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

They do sound good. Conferences are a great tool for motivation and networking.



Wonderful cities. Although Denver has better food. And Stephany's chocolates. Yowza. Yum. Here, try some. Delish!

(Sorry. Couldn't resist. And I don't even WATCH Rachel Ray only because who has time to watch the food network when you spend so much time working, writing or making food! The irony...



Janet Dean said...

Hi Audra! Welcome home!!!! We missed you terribly here in Seekerville!!!

You have a lovely glow about you. Must be the fresh perspective and renewed energry of a writer falling in love with her craft all over again. Very proud of you!!!
Can't wait to see your new project garnering awards in Denver!


Pam Hillman said...

Great insights Audra! And so nice to *see* you again!

Yeah, I've been there more times that I can count, Audra.

Pass the Secret!

Cara Slaughter said...

Wonderful post, Audra! I'm glad your summer was SO productive and inciteful.

My problem isn't the story, it's the romance. I'm afraid I'm not very romantic at heart (I'm wincing--I should never admit that). I've just started to realize I don't include enough romance in my scenes. Sigh. I guess we all have a lot to learn about how we write.

See you in Denver next year! I hope to see all of you.

Missy Tippens said...

Audra, my long lost sibling!!!!!!! So good to see you back "home"!! :)

Great post. I'm so excited for you. I love legal thrillers, too. Love John Grisham! All those twists and turns make the books so exciting. And very unpredictable.

I can't wait to see you up in the Genesis again next year!! Of course, you may sell before then...

Missy :)

Audra Harders said...

Get out! Denver is the next ACFW conference??? Gee, guess I'll have to think about it : ) I know the Seekers who'll enter the BOTY and the Genesis, so of course I've gotta come cheer you guys on : )

Audra Harders said...

Oh man, Myra! I am so out of the loop (so to speak). You sold!!! WooHoo!! Doing a snoopy dance just for you, babe. Right here in the office with all my extension agents looking on (sorry, but it ain't a pretty sight, LOL)

Another one bites the dust!!!

Way to go, Sweetstuff!!!

Audra Harders said...

Janet, still have a brother in Boulder?? Come see me!

Audra Harders said...

LOL, Pam! I think we are walking hand in hand down this lane. I'm still shaking my head and wondering exactly which of the secrets I'm supposed to take to heart : ) I'm sure glad the Seekers by-laws state no woman left behind.


Audra Harders said...

Cara, if I can admit to being cliche, a little unromantic is a piece of cake : ) What is it with this industry? Just when we think we've got things figured out. . .

I know this won't be the last epiphany I'll have, LOL!

Audra Harders said...

Isn't John Grisham great?? Too bad he thought to write like that first. I'd hate to be a copy cat : ) I guess I'll have to make my own novel shake of legal-romance-cowboy-historical-set-in- Russia series. Hmm, got any ideas who to pitch it to??

Janet Dean said...

Yes, Audra, I do. Let's have breakfast. I promise I won't stuff my face next time. :-)