My journey with Peri and her friends

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Archive for July, 2008

Getting some attention

Posted by Gayle on July 18, 2008

Kraemer Park, one of the locations in the book

Kraemer Park, one of the locations in the book

In February 2008, I did one more round of edits, printed my manuscript, and headed down to San Diego for yet another SoCal Writer’s Conferences. This time, I had sent in the first 20 pages for three different people to read: an editor (Mike Sirota), an agent (quite frankly, I don’t remember her name), and a publisher (Karen Syed, Echelon Press).

I tried to use my time wisely, by going to workshops that had information on getting published, attending a few read & critique sessions to get feedback, and hanging out with Gordon Kirkland. Okay, that last activity was only useful and wise in that I like hanging out with him.

For my advance submissions, Mike Sirota was semi-encouraging. As I sat down, he said, “Ah, at last someone I can give good news to.” Then he proceeded to tear my work apart and tell me to rewrite it all from a completely different perspective and using completely different characters.

Next.

The agent was very young and perky and “played devil’s advocate” with me, questioning Peri’s motivation for going to Benny’s place, Benny’s fascination with Dean Martin, etc. She wasn’t a horrid person, but I could tell that, even if I changed it to please her, we would not work well together.

Then there was Karen. She not only liked my work, she “got” it.

“Have you finished this?” she asked. “Send it to me.”

(Insert girlish squeal here.)

But-but-but… I had already asked Jean Jenkins to work with me, as my editor. Although I had re-read and edited, I wasn’t confident that the book was really publisher-ready. What a lovely dilemma!

Jean said to go for it, so I did one more quick clean-up, then sent it to Karen the following week.

I didn’t hear from her for four months, so I figured she just wasn’t that into it, and I sent it to Jean for editting. As timing would have it, that’s when Karen contacted me and said, do you want a contract?

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Why, of course it’s complete

Posted by Gayle on July 14, 2008

In September (2007) I went to the Southern California Writer’s Conference in LA-Irvine with my 45 pages of murder and intrigue. I had submitted the first 20 pages to Jean Jenkins for an advance read. In addition to listening to all of the experts and taking large quantities of notes, I attended many read & critiques, reading the first five pages to the groups and listening to their feedback. They were mostly positive; the one group that didn’t care for my work was a late night session with Matt Pallamary. Part of the problem was that I read it poorly. Part of the problem was that I was too tired to hear what they were actually saying, so it turned out to be a waste of time.
But Jean Jenkins wasn’t. She’s a professional editor and loved my story.
“Have you finished this book?” she asked. “There wasn’t a lot wrong with it, and if it’s done, you need to be shopping this around to the agents and publishers.”
“It’s halfway finished,” I lied.
When the conference was over, I began a whirlwind of writing. After a few distractions, I finished the book before Christmas. Then I did what they had told me to do at the conference – I set it aside for six weeks.

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Writing the book

Posted by Gayle on July 10, 2008

Once I had the 5 W’s, I could just write the book, right? Wrong.
First, I was in the middle of finishing my second edit of my first book. Oh, yes, I had written a book previously. It’s a well-written piece of complete drivel, in which I made every mistake imagineable while remaining grammatically correct, and even sometimes lyrically brilliant. I plan to use it for parts – someday.
By August, I had freed myself from the 1st novel and could start on Freezer Burn, whose working title was “Hands of Time.” I changed the name as soon as it dawned on me that “Hands of Time” sounded like a soap opera.
The first thing I had to do was figure out how my trusty heroine would find the clues to lead her to the solution. Being uber-organized, I put together an MSExcel file laying out the plot, listing problems I needed to address, things I needed to learn about, and defining characters. After all that, I started to write.
I went to the Southern California Writer’s Conference in LA-Irvine in September, with 45 pages of a mystery.

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How did she do it? (Part 2)

Posted by Gayle on July 9, 2008

So, by October of 2006, I had the general idea for a murder mystery: an older gal who is a P.I., discovers a severed hand with an expensive ring in the freezer of a client.
But whose hand was it? How did it get there? Why didn’t they take the ring?
I stalled on these answers, and more, until May 2007. It was Mother’s Day weekend, and Dale and I were driving up to Paso Robles to see Snoopy compete at a horse show. Dale was driving, which meant that I was sleeping, because that’s the way I roll. I was slightly in-between awake and asleep, when my mind began to follow a thread, from an aging starlet who had an affair with a Douglas Fairbanks-type of actor, to a homeless girl who stumbles upon a pretty ring… and her doom.
I sat up, grabbed my digital voice recorder, and laid it all out, the who what when where why.
Then I went back to blissful sleep.

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How did she do it? (Part 1)

Posted by Gayle on July 7, 2008

So, a lot of people have asked how I came up with the storyline in my novel. Basically, it came from two sources: 1) the Southern California Writers Conference, and 2) my warped sense of humor.
I went to my first SCWC in 2006, in Palm Springs, armed with a handful of my humor essays, a kind-of-short story and an open, if clueless, mind. The conference had a topic contest: 250 words, any genre. The topic? Ice.
When I first heard it, I thought, “How stupid.” But an idea began to percolate. By Sunday morning, I had written 250 words on the hotel stationary and submitted it. And guess what? I won. The entry is here:
www.writersconference.com/ps/topic/ps3topic_a.html
It’s a “noir” kind of piece, with a humorous angle. At the same time, I began to joke about a new detective for the Baby Boomer generation – Peri Menopause, Private Eye. She was a gal who’d solve every crime by crying, eating chocolate and bitch-slapping everyone until someone confessed.
Shortly after the conference, I married the topic contest entry and Peri, and envisioned Peri finding more than an ice cube tray in the freezer…
How about a severed hand?
Naw, not compelling enough.
How about a severed hand wearing a big, expensive ring?
Viola! A story begins to take shape! Now all I had to do was figure out who the hand and the ring belonged to and how they got in the freezer.

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