On day three of our recent Gulf Shores trip, while other beachcombers were out hunting crab or shells or buried coins, I hit on my own bonanza. A metadata bonanza. That is, some valuable thoughts about my novel.
A Stranger’s Promise isn’t formula. And it isn’t mystery, “cozy” or otherwise. I thought for a long time it was a mystery, but now I know for sure that it isn’t. Because Joan doesn’t stumble over a dead body by page 6. In fact, she doesn’t get wind of the mystery part of the plot until chapter 4 – though her “I sense something odd” needle has been jumping since chapter 2. She’s an astute gal, this Joan.
My novel is about more than the small-town missing-person case Joan decides to involve herself in. It’s about a strong, smart, independent woman, who has plenty of free time, becoming friends with another strong, smart, independent woman whose time is running out. Within a sometimes comical adventure, it’s a story of honor, sacrifice, and self-discovery. The genre is Women’s Fiction. (But men can read it, too!)
(How) does my book grab you?
Some who’ve critiqued my synopsis and early chapters are concerned I may not be getting to the “real” plot quickly enough; I may not hold readers’ interest if I don’t tell them in the first couple of pages what the obstacle is that my main character must hurdle. I’ve studied on that feedback and have used it to motivate a complete overhaul of the first scene. Besides, now that I’m not misclassifying my manuscript as a mystery, these writing professionals might give a different opinion through new “genre” eyes. (One can hope, anyway!) Therefore, I’m holding on to the two scenes before Joan rolls into Crook Mountain. And, in the additional pages before she hears about a stranger’s promise, I’m foreshadowing, introducing key characters, and – yes – unfolding the “real” plot.
A Stranger’s Promise is a work of Christian fiction written with one of my favorite authors, Grace Livingston Hill, in mind. Like her, I will include in my novel(s) the story of God’s sending His Son, Jesus, to redeem sinners. My sequel in progress, All Owing to Love, develops this theme after A Stranger’s Promise gets it off the ground. Read more.
There’s a reason I chose “blooming” as the clean expletive in the title of this post. That word suggests new life. Growing. Becoming. And beauty. There couldn’t be a more appropriate image! My characters are growing and developing. As a writer, I am doing the same. And, like Grace Livingston Hill, I am using a novel to tell about Jesus and to encourage all who know Him, and all who need to know Him, to find new life with Him as their Savior and Lord.
If there is one message I heard loud and clear at BRMCWC in 2015 and at ACFW in 2016, it is this: stay true to what it is you’re being impressed to write. Then, start worrying about editors, agents, publishers, contracts, distribution, and all that other stuff. That’s where I am right now.
Please “Like” and read my Facebook page Books by Betsy Lowery where I’m chronicling my blooming start as a novelist. Comment on my posts. Ask me questions. (You can see I love to talk about what I’m doing!) Cheer me on. Pray for me. Ask God to use my efforts. Ask Him to open doors and to guide me on the road to publication. Thank you!
P.S. I’m scheduled to be at Birmingham Public Library on Saturday, August 19, from 9:00 to 3:00 for Local Author Expo. I’ll have a number of things on display including a copy of my first book – published in 2004; a little “dice game” for a giveaway every hour; a brand-new sampler booklet with 6 or 7 of the scenes from my novel that make me smile; business cards (of course); and … free candy. Look for me there.