Congratulations, Elizabeth, you’ve written a book, and seen it to publication. What are three things you’ve learned from this experience?
Elizabeth: Patience – the publishing process is a world unlike any other. For so long, everything revolved around my story world, my characters and scenes, editing, and polishing. Once I pronounced it complete, at that point I realized I had no idea what to do with it! That’s when I entered the world of conferences, weary literary agents, and the dreaded “tell me about your book” question.
I strongly encourage aspiring writers to get started on this part of the process as early as possible. If nothing else, it provides practice that will prepare you for the next step … before you reach the next step.
Patience – I went to a conference and met with a literary agent. She requested a book proposal, which set church bells ringing in my head. I also met with a publisher who listened to me for all of thirty seconds before he began shredding my story. Crushed is a good way to describe how I felt. He sure stopped those heavenly bells!
After licking my wounds, I sent my proposal off to the agent and received a response back requesting the completed manuscripts. I entered a writing contest, took second place, and my hopes soared again. I tackled another writing conference and met Tracy Ruckman of Write Integrity Press. She requested the first few chapters of my story, read it, liked it, and offered me a contract. I was on my way!
For writers, our writings are our children. It’s hard when your kids are rejected. My best advice is to toughen up and remember that rejection is not personal. It’s a fact, since your book will not appeal to everyone. Keep your chin up and persevere.
Patience – So I had a book and a contract. Friends and family were so tickled for me. “When’s your book coming out?” Uh … soon? In the spring? Maybe summer? Next year?
If you contract with a publisher, you don’t go to the top of their list. More likely, you go to the bottom. Publishers have a number of authors awaiting publication, much like a juggler with a dozen balls in the air. Books slated for publication go through pre-edits, more edits, and galley edits. There are jacket designs to be considered and finalized, copyrights to file, and the list goes on. Publication is not a quick process.
I waited and, as the months went by, I began to doubt my work. What if my publisher had second thoughts? What if my story wasn’t good enough? Every time the dark thoughts came, Tracy came through with a bit of encouragement. Don’t do what I did. Ask your publisher up front for a projected release date, but understand that unforeseen circumstances can change it. Don’t be afraid to contact your publisher with questions—just don’t go overboard with your worries. Focus your attention on building your social media platform. Don’t neglect your writing—start something new. And trust your publisher. After all, they’re the one who offered the contract.
Thanks for making that point, Elizabeth. Receiving a contract is a very important step, but it’s only the first step in a sometimes long, drawn-out process. Now, regarding Imperfect Wings, what is your favorite sentence or paragraph in the book?
Elizabeth: I actually have two favorite passages. The first occurs while Garrett and TJ (the main characters, are arguing. This is reference to the age-old claim that men and women don’t speak the same language.
(Garrett) “Let me get this straight. You’re saying I see you as a woman, but I don’t want to see you as a woman, and you don’t like that?”
(TJ) “Do you deny it?”
(Garrett) “Yes. Wait…no.” The beginnings of a headache stirred. He yanked off his hat and hurled it to the floor. His voice rose, a sure sign he’d lost control of the situation. “I don’t have a clue what you just said, and I sure don’t know how to answer without digging myself in deeper.”
The second passage is part of a dialogue between Garrett and his father, Cody. During a little father-son talk (keep in mind Garrett is in his early thirties), Garrett admits he hurt TJ and doesn’t know how to make it up to her. This little conversation snippet gives a man’s insight into a woman’s psyche.
Here’s what Cody says:
“Commitment don’t mean you have to get hitched tomorrow. That would be a disaster. You two got a spark going, but you barely know each other. Commitment means you’re willing to spend the time and effort to get to know her. Learn to trust and be trusted without letting anyone else muddy the water. Figure out if you want to spend the rest of your life with her, and vice versa. And then you grovel. A lot. Women like that.”
On a more practical note, writers sit for extended periods of time. What do you do to combat fatigue?
I block time on my iPhone calendar, set those “appointments” with funky alarms, and then stash my phone in a nearby room. This way I can tune out familiar ring tones for text messages, emails, and Facebook notifications. The unusual calendar alarm (a Sherwood Forest horn sound) stands out and catches my attention.
By scheduling blocks of time for specific purposes and using an obnoxious alarm, I protect my writing time, make sure critiques get done in a timely manner, do PR on a regular basis, and take care of other demands (such as walking and those never-ending household chores). So far, it’s worked well.
How do you personally handle “writer’s block?”
Elizabeth: I have a number of ways to unblock my inner muse. I use them based on mood, weather, circumstances, and outside demands on my time.
1. Read. I like to immerse myself in someone else’s story.
2. Nap. I “write” a lot of my stuff in my head.
3. Watch a movie (or two, or three). Again, get into another story.
4. Go on a cleaning spree. Physical work exhausts the body while leaving the mind free to chase all those crazy rabbit trails.
5. Take a walk sans iPod—and not in my neighborhood where everyone wants to stop and chat. I call this “free think” time.
6. Sometimes I just get up and walk away from my computer until I feel the pull to return. That might be a five-minute stretch, an hour-long trip to the grocery store, or even a weekend spent with the grandkids.
It’s key for each author to find an avenue of escape so they can return to writing with a fresh outlook.
And in closing, what fun fact would you like your readers to know about you?
Elizabeth: I married my husband on Christmas Eve, which seemed like a good idea at the time, at least until we started needing babysitters. We left my home in Alabama on Christmas Day, flew to his family’s home in northern Maine, and then on New Year’s Day to Germany where he was stationed with the Army. Who else do you know can boast of a 3½ year honeymoon?
We’ve been avid travelers and passionate cruisers ever since. During forty-plus years of marriage, I’ve visited 4 continents and more than 40 countries and islands. (My honey has been on 6 continents and in tons more countries). Our retirement plan includes lots of travel in the coming years, as long as we’re able to still go.
BIO: Elizabeth Noyes is a native of the Deep South and claims to still “speak the language,” even after traveling around the world for most of her adult life. She and her husband now live in the eastern suburbs of Atlanta where she recently retired from a career as a professional business writer and editor. “I thought I would have trouble filling my days now that I’m retired. Instead, it’s a challenge to squeeze in time for my writing between church, family, grandkids, friends, book marketing, and learning more than I ever wanted to know about social media. Somehow, though, the balance always comes.”
Imperfect Wings, by Elizabeth Noyes
A young woman in the wrong place at the wrong time… An ex-soldier determined to finish the mission… Assassins, traitors, passion, and a deadly race against time in pursuit of justice.
Three years after burying her father, TJ visits Honduras where he died. While there, she witnesses a murder and is forced to flee.
Don Castillo dreams of riches and power. Funnel the drugs into the States and it’s his. First though, he must eliminate the woman who dared spy on him.
The last thing Garrett Cameron needs is another woman disrupting his life, but when the feisty vixen that put a monkey wrench in his mission two years ago shows up at his ranch running for her life — what’s a man to do?
The attraction between TJ and Garrett, a desire neither is prepared for, ignites into a raging inferno in the midst of danger. Her past is filled with betrayal. He’s lived a life of violence. Love isn’t for them.
Only faith in God can overcome the deadly odds they face. Only by trusting each other can they move beyond their pasts and embrace a future together.
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