I have been lining up the mini workshops I mentioned in my last post and (drum roll) I have my first confirmed event at a library in San Diego (Clairemont Library), scheduled for September 4th.
It was a bit of a disappointment to learn that it may take thirty days for me to get the books I ordered because I know a lot of you want a copy and I want to get one to you as soon as possible. I should have the books the beginning of August, hopefully sooner.
Here, now, is a sneak peak at the beginning of the first chapter.
Step One: A Place to Begin.
Rhonda Gayetski pulled up to the Blue Dot Café and parked as close to the front door as the spaces allowed. She wanted to be sure of a fast exit if this meeting didn’t go at all well.
Rhonda lives in Covington, a small town of twenty thousand, the suburb of a larger city called Crestwood. Although Covington can’t yet boast of having a movie theater, it does have a read and critique group for writers which Rhonda discovered one day in her local newspaper under Things To Do Around Town. She phoned the contact person, Judy, and now here she was, ready to go in and see what this group was all about.
To Rhonda, sitting at a computer playing with words is far more fun than playing video games. Writing is her passion. At least it was until she submitted a story to a magazine a few years ago and received a very impersonal rejection letter. The short form letter opened with, “We are sorry to inform you that your submission does not meet our needs at this time.” So she began to question herself. Maybe I can’t write after all. Maybe that novel floating around in my head will never stand the world on its ears. Why even try if I’m going to get rejected? I’m thirty-five and married and quite competent as a corporate accountant. So why am I now feeling like a five-year-old at my first day of kindergarten?
She looked in the rearview mirror, fidgeted with her brown shoulder-length hair, checked to make sure there was no lipstick on her slightly crooked teeth, grabbed her purse and stepped out of her car. For the tenth time, she opened her purse and checked to make sure she had a pad and a pen and what she laughingly called her manuscript. She walked to the front door of the café. She could smell the wonderful aroma of fresh coffee brewing.
A waitress, whose name tag read “Penny,” greeted her at the door. Rhonda said, “I’m here for the Covington Writers‘ Guild.”
Penny motioned with her hand. “It’s in a room right down here, Sweetie. Just follow me.”
Rhonda followed Penny past diners engaged in various stages of eating and talking, to a private room at the back of the restaurant and walked in to find three women and a man seated at a table, coffee cups in front of them. The older woman rose. “You must be Rhonda. I’m Judy, president of the group. We talked on the phone. I’m so happy you could make it. While Penny is here, she’ll take your order for coffee if you’d like.”
One by one, the others introduced themselves--Bill, middle aged with glasses and grey hair at the temples; Sharon, in her thirties, dimples galore; and Beverly, her corn rows accentuating her milk chocolate face.
The door opened and two more women came in and quickly sat down so as not to disrupt the meeting. Judy introduced Rhonda to Donna and Darlene, twins in their mid-twenties.
Rhonda relaxed, a little, realizing that these were people just like her, not Pulitzer prize winners, or whatever prize it was they gave for the best book of the year.
Judy asked, “Now that we’re all here, is there any good news anyone wants to share?”
Bill raised his hand. “My first book, Unexpected Surprises, has just been accepted by a publisher!” The group gave him a rousing ovation and plenty of high fives.
“Great news, Bill! Your perseverance certainly paid off. We’re all proud of you.”
Beverly asked, “Will you be getting an advance? I’ve heard of such a thing but I’m not sure how it works.”
“No,” said Bill, “I won’t be getting one. And how it works is like this; let’s say the publisher gives you an advance of, oh, five thousand dollars to finish your book and to pay your food bill so you don't starve while you write. When the book starts selling, your initial royalties go to pay off the five thousand dollars. When that sum is paid off, then you start receiving royalties, once or twice a year, depending on the publisher’s policy. For me, I‘d rather not receive an advance and start right in receiving royalties, but that‘s just my personal preference. Small presses don‘t normally offer advances.”
“Since you’re the Man of the Hour Bill,” said Judy, “let’s start with you today. Are you going to read from your new book, Heaven Scent?”
“Yes. I‘ll pick up with Chapter Five. If you remember, those who were here last month, Colleen had just run into Lilly and learned that David was missing.”
As Bill read his latest chapter, Rhonda felt her manuscript burning in her purse. She wanted to run out of the room and never come back. How can I compete with a writer of Bill’s caliber?