A WRITER’S WORST NIGHTMARE – THIS BOOK WILL NEVER GET PUBLISHED!

ANGRY FRUSTRATION

And I thought I had a winner….

The man’s name was Mort Reed, and he has since passed away, but thanks to Mort I had to come face-to-face with the fact that I knew very little about writing fiction.

He did read my manuscript, and instead of the awesome praise I expected, he crashed my world, but in a way that made me determined to learn how to deal with writing this story that continued to haunt me.

Mort said, “Look, I know you write good magazine and newspaper articles, but this book will never get published. First of all, it is way, way too long. At that time the manuscript was about 700 pages. You see, I thought you had to have a BIG book in order to get published.

He continued, “It is filled with cliches and tangents that take me away from the core of the story. You have lots of information dumps, too. The gist of the story is good, but you need to learn how to write fiction, my friend.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, as I tried to hold back the tears of humiliation, he gave me one more sage bit of advice. “I don’t feel your characters. You need to become them. Particularly the woman whose story this is. Feel her feelings, shake with fear like she does. Make the reader buy into it. If you can do all of what I’ve suggested, I think you’ll have a publishable manuscript.”

He was right, but it took many more years to become BETRAYED.

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EXCERPT FROM “BETRAYED”

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EXCERPT FROM “BETRAYED”

Sherry and Tommy both stood there staring at me as though I was a piece of meat in the butcher’s case. My eyes darted around the room frantically looking for

anything faintly familiar. The pounding of my heart echoed in my ears. I told myself it was okay and tried not to be so afraid. After all, the walking dead aren’t supposed to care about anything, are they? It didn’t work. I was petrified.

Tiny blood red specks blinked furiously, growing larger and larger on the dark blanket inside my head. Then everything turned pitch black.

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THE FIRST TIME OF MANY TIMES I TRIED TO WRITE THE BOOK “BETRAYED”

BALLERINAS

She was a ballerina, but the book is about betrayal

Because the kidnap victim, who has had different names in the various versions of this story, was a ballet protege, I thought something about dancing had to be in the title, when the reality is that it is a story of multiple betrayals. The element of dance weaves through all of the real events that inspired this story, but after years of wrestling with it to get just the right balance and writing technique, I finally realized there was no need to highlight “dance” in the title.

Sadly, my first attempt back in the early 90s was that of an amateur when it came to writing fiction. For one thing, coming from the world of magazine and newspaper articles, I had the tendency to do lots of “information dumps”–in case you are not familiar with that term it refers to big blocks of information contained within a paragraph or several paragraphs like a litany of facts.

That’s what you often do when trying to fit a lot of information into the limited space allotted for articles, but as I learned the hard way, it doesn’t work for fiction. When writing fiction you have to dole out the information in appropriate places.

Because it was imperative to write in first person to grab the drama of the scenes, I later learned I should have used dialogue and other devices to inform the reader of back story or things Laurel Murphy couldn’t see but were critical to the action. However, like most novices, I didn’t realize how many mistakes I was making. Hey, I was a published writer, right?

One of the lessons learned the hard way was to understand your genre before crafting the story. I hadn’t done that.

I also thought you had to have a massive book to get published, so my manuscript was over 200,000 words. When, after a few years of working on it, I typed that last line and breathed a sigh of accomplishment, deep in my heart I knew I’d written a best seller.

Then came the crash to the ground and to reality. I’d written a big, thick book that would never get published, but I was so confident it was great I asked a friend who had written some best selling thrillers to read it and give me his opinion. He was brutally frank.

More about this in the next post.

How did the idea for BETRAYED come about?

BIO PIX -3So often I’m asked where writers get their ideas. For me, the answer is anywhere and everywhere. Most writers are very aware of what is going on around them and have a cache of memories from experiences and incidents throughout their lives--sometimes faded, sometimes vivid. BETRAYED is my 12th book, but where did the idea come from and when did it first pop into my mind?

It dates back to true incidents that happened back in the late 50s to someone we knew. For reasons unknown apparently the case did not make the newspapers in Chicago. We were living in Los Angeles by then and the details were relayed in letters to my mother. This was many, many years ago, well before I was an author. In fact, at that time I never had a clue that writing and speaking would be a phase in my life. Like many teens I really didn’t have a direction yet. As a child I’d been fascinated by mystery and when I was about 11 (back in Chicago) my friends and I formed a club with a very “creative” name. Mystery Club.

We investigated and bugged the neighbors to a point that they complained to our parents, but little sleuths that we thought we were, we continued to look for some heinous crime in the neighborhood. The two big murder cases back then in our town were “The Knife Slasher,” and “The Hammer Killer.” News was reported on the radio or on black and white TV with few stations and tiny screens. We were sure whatever we uncovered would make the news. Kids!

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Imagine the terror of waking up in a strange bedroom bound and gagged, but it didn’t stop there. Teenager Laurel Murphy was a promising ballerina bound to have a brilliant career until she was kidnapped, sold into a brothel where she was raped and brutalized and finally left for dead. But contrary to what the kidnappers thought, she didn’t die. As Laurel rebuilt her body and tried to build a new life, deep within her soul she dealt with the need for revenge. However, fate was not done with her yet. Her journey from terror to success, the high and low points of the life that followed, will grab your heartstrings and not let go.