Thank you so much for inviting me to join you today. I’m a big fan of the Seekerville blog ever since discovering you while my Abingdon editor, Barbara Scott, was a guest. She had such a great time, and the interaction was so great; I was really happy to be invited.
Tina asked me to talk a little about finding your bliss in your writing. I’ve been blessed to find my bliss in humor, and the first thing I thought about was an old Steve Martin joke. I’ll delete the expletives he included, but it goes something like this:
“People ask me all the time, ‘Steve. How can you be so funny!?’ And so I tell them. When I get dressed in the morning, I slip a couple slices of bologna in my shoes. It just makes me feeeeeel fuuunny.”
I don’t put bologna in my shoes but, like Steve, I started out writing for the Smothers Brothers and Sonny & Cher.
No, that’s not true. I was just seeing if you were paying attention. I’m old, but I’m not that old!
Steve Martin is arguably one of the funniest people living, but he started out studying philosophy, if you can picture that! As a writer I started out with my eye on suspense. In both cases, destiny took control and shoved us in a different direction.
Mary Higgins Clark, Jasmine Cresswell, Colleen Coble … all of these masters of suspense kept me riveted with their books, and I just knew that was what I was going to write. Avalon Books did actually publish me in the genre with Change of Heart and the sequel Sins of the Past, both of which got average reviews. But I kept getting reader mail that said things like, “I cracked up at Sage’s reaction to …” and “I laughed so hard I actually cried when the car blew up and …”
Wait just a doggone minute! I was trying to build suspense, but I made people laugh?
Then when Wish I Weren’t Here, a romantic comedy for Avalon, drew 4x the reader mail than the last two combined, you’d think I would have gotten the message, right? Well, never let it be said that I’m quick on the draw when my mind is made up! In 2008, while working on yet another suspense novel, I heard about a new market called Love Finds You with Summerside Press. I quickly submitted 3 or 4 proposals with mystery and/or suspense involved in the plot, and I anxiously waited to hear back. And then came the rejections. What is wrong with these people? I thought.
Then one day I received an email from Rachel Meisel, the editor for the LFY line, asking if we could talk on the phone. The first thing she said to me that day was that they wouldn’t be buying any of the books I’d proposed, and I remember thinking, “So you wanted to talk to me so you could personally reject my books for a second time?!” But then she added that they had been discussing what they wanted to launch the line, and everyone at Summerside had agreed they wanted something light and really funny, and they felt like I would be just the author to deliver it.
I had to ask. “Um, why would that make you think of me?” Everything I’d submitted was pretty serious. Her answer was, “Your emails crack us up!”
So Sandra D. Bricker, Author of Laugh-Out-Loud Comedy for the Inspirational Market was born. And if you don’t like it, you can pretty much blame Rachel Meisel for it.
Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas was the most writing joy I had known up to that point. It was like stumbling into the Bermuda Triangle, except in a good way, where all the most important segments of my life merged together and sparked writing magic for me. My faith, my writing, and my humor all intersected, and wham! The best of all worlds. And I think that’s the key way you’ll know what you were meant to write, whether it’s comedy, suspense, screenplays, travel guides or true confessions. Hindsight being 20/20, I can say for certain that my heart always knew where I belonged. But my brain was busy making decisions without taking destiny into consideration.
Well. That, and the fact that an unnamed editor at a fictional publisher (that starts with H and rhymes with Marlequin) once told me, “I can see that you think you are, but you just aren’t funny!”
I beg to differ, unnamed editor! And apparently so do my readers. (Thank GOD!)
Summerside has contracted two more LFY books from me (Holiday, FL which will publish at the end of the year, and
for 2010), both of which are comedies. In addition, they’ve slated a devotional that I co-authored with 3 other writers (Debby Mayne, Loree Lough and Andrea Boeshaar) for the end of 2009 as well. Be Still … and Let Your Nail Polish Dry is a lighthearted, often funny, devotional geared toward busy women. Carmel, CA
The cover is just SMOKIN HOT, and the minute you see it, you think, “Funny!” It’s drawn some fantastic pre-release endorsements from the likes of Candace Cameron-Bure (remember DJ Tanner on Full House?) and Robin Lee Hatcher. A portion of the proceeds are going to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Since I’m a survivor of that cancer, I’m over the moon about that. Comedian Jon Lovitz opened his own comedy club on Universal Walk in Hollywood at the end of May, and he stunned us all by putting up a banner with the book cover on it right inside the door on opening night, and handing out glossy color cards of the cover to every one of the 400 people in attendance that night. His audience included Dana Carvey, Garry Marshall and Darryl Hannah. It was really great exposure for a group of Christian girls who just wanted to inspire and uplift women. If anyone would like to visit the Be Still blog, you can pop over here.
In the Spring of 2010, Abingdon Press will release The Big 5-OH!, a romantic comedy I wrote for their new line of fiction. In addition to the unexpected perk and utter joy of working with Barbara Scott, I am really excited about this book because it was a great opportunity for me to take a look at some of the most serious things from my life, such as growing older, surviving cancer and moving to another planet called Florida, and poke fun at all of it. If Seekervillians would like to read an excerpt, there’s one on my Web site.
So … all this to say that finding your niche is as important as finishing your first book. Or your 30th. Listen to that still small voice; it will never let you down.
I love that old adage that says, “The definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior again and again while expecting a different outcome.” I circled the suspense mountain for eons, wondering why I wasn’t succeeding. All the while, God was shaking His big head and telling the angels, “Try again to get through to her. And if that doesn’t work, go talk to Rachel Meisel and Barbara Scott. They listen better than this one does.”