Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Head in the Sand

I am participating in Alex's Insecure Writer's first Wednesday (check link for details and the list of other participants) and... the ether must have known I needed some content... *sigh*

So my agent called me yesterday. Now when an agent picks up the phone, you KNOW it is either good news or bad news... they are very busy and hardly have time to just chat and see how you are...

This was the bad sort.

Not horrible. Not... canceled contract or I hate this type news. But still... “You're going to need to make some changes.”


I don't know if it's me, but I always feel like I've been called out into the hall by the principal. Like somebody ratted me out for streaking through the gym, even though I had a bag over my head. I worry that I'm not just going to be asked to fix it, but I might get suspended or expelled because... well... maybe because I'm a FRAUD... Maybe I don't measure UP.


The reality of it is I didn't have enough rounds of revision, and one of the rounds that (oops) I really skimmed was infusing this GARDENING THEMED Cozy Mystery with... duh... GARDENING.

The trouble is I don't garden in real life. And I don't live in a zone 7. So every single detail of it has to be carefully researched... And I just fell down on getting enough of it in there that it FEELS like Gardening is a theme. I mean there are gardens and flowers. But... and here we hit the other 'my failing' things... I tend to run low on description (because honestly, I don't care to read it) and THAT is where much of this would go...


But what a bonehead thing to not remember to make sure I've done, eh?

This series really spoke to me when I auditioned for it because of the Public Relations and Media stuff—I've worked in that world and really felt like I had great character insight. And my research on Roanoke has been pretty good because ACTION requires people to go places and do things, so all that research sort of has to happen pre- or during writing. So somehow in my head I thought 'okay, just clean it up' rather than marking all the places it needed an infusion of flowers or gardening.

See, I got caught up in this torrid thing... and forgot gardening.
Maybe I need a Gardening 101 course so this stuff just comes more naturally into my brain.

Whatever the case, I'm feeling like a real Dunderhead and like I'd really just feel better if I could solve it all by detention with Snape.


Anybody ELSE die a little recently? Anybody have BIG goofs like that to confess? Recurring nightmares about anything?

Nothing to do but own it. Guess I just added to my January to-do list by A LOT.

32 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hart, you won't be expelled!
Sometimes those pesky details suck. I don't like a lot of description and don't write it either.
Just a little more research and you'll be able to fill in the gaps. Just don't ask me about gardening. I'm all in favor of plastic plants.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

I'm with you and Alex - the detailed descriptions drive me bonkers. Oh well... get busy! (As if you aren't busy enough!) Just think how much you'll know about gardening when you're done!

Siv Maria said...

Live and learn. You never know, maybe you will learn to love gardening :)

Creepy Query Girl said...

LOL- it happens. Sometimes the story just takes over and the details fall to the wayside. Is there any famous gardens or properties around where you live? Do you have a neighbor or friend who keeps their garden sparkly? Maybe you just need to do a little writerly detective work:) The agent Im working with currently wants me to work on my MC's voice. Definitely not an easy feat.

Tonja said...

Just make friends with a gardener. They will talk their heads off about it. Don't ask me - I only do easy flowers and vegetables.

LTM said...

Trust me. Tonja has your answer there. And LOL at that pageant picture. See? I think little red looks awesome. She gets my points~ :D

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

This was for book 1? I remember plenty of description in there, though.

I'm writing book 2 of the quilting series and just trying to set the crime in quilting-related places (bees, shows, etc.) to help pull it in. Or run a subplot with the gardening theme throughout and connect it with the main plot. Something like that?

SweetMarie83 said...

I sometimes forget about the details too because so many books are OVERLY detailed. I can't tell you how many books I've read lately where I've thought 'that could have been 100 pages shorter and had a whole lot less filler'. But I realize in a case like yours, those details are necessary! I'm sure you'll find a way to weave it in there...I live in an apartment and the only thing I've grown in 15 years is balcony tomatoes, so I'm clueless lol.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I just had this pointed out to me in my writing group with a huge detail that I kind of forgot to write. But yay for people who point it out to us, right? Right? Great post - new follower :)

M.J. Fifield said...

I once had a friend read my manuscript and call me. She said, "Can I come over? I have to talk to you about your book."

This immediately filled me with dread. So she came over and told me about a plot hole she found that was big enough to fix Texas in.

It was a huge "Duh" moment for me. But all embarrassment aside (and there was embarrassment), I'm glad she found it.

Cherie Reich said...

Definitely an "oops" moment, but at least it is one you can fix. And you can fix it. :)

It still doesn't make you feel better to get called out on it. I would've had the same reaction.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Definitely. When I rewrote my YA fantasy to be a MG fantasy, I cut at lot out. Almost 20K. But in during so, I cut out some of the tension, some of the conflict. The ticking bomb. A beta reader pointed this out to me and now I might have to add some more back. Guess I got a little too happy with the scissors. At least I saved everything in a deleted scenes file!

Jan Morrison said...

I hear your pain. I'm willing to help - really - I love gardening and you don't have to be good at it or even know much about the zone you're in to sound like you do - it is the passion thing you need to get across.
and yes, this whole last year has been about disappointment after disappointment. yesterday my computer crashed and I'm trying to do everything on an ancient laptop. Freaking out is my middle name. I'll email you soon. - tonnes of love - this is workable.

Cold As Heaven said...

I hoped to start January somewhat slow, and to get time to do some fun stuff. Now my todo list is already looooong. Hope I get some time for writing too >:)

Cold As Heaven

Johanna Garth said...

I'd feel exactly the same way :(

If it's any help I LOVE to garden. You are more than welcome to pick my brain...although, that being said I'm not sure if I live in a zone 7.

Hart Johnson said...

Thank you so much sweet people for all the support!

Leigh-that pageant pic is from Little Miss Sunshine which is a GREAT (not for kids) movie! You should check it out!

And Jan and Johanna--totally going to take you up on the help offer! I actually gardened a little in Portland, but never passionately... not enough to learn more than just the basics. I think it may be zone 7... it isn't as hot as Virginia, but the freeze frequency and season length are probably comparable...

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Hart, I don't think I could get excited about gardening either. I can't even grow radishes.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

ugh. I totally understand that feeling! It's like whenever my supervisor says she wants to talk to me. I automatically assume i'm going to get fired, even though i've never even been in trouble. Hell, a few times she's even given me bonuses! But that doesn't change the fear

Helena said...

Hey, the good news is the plot and characters must be solid, and those are the tough parts (and I should know because I read your manuscript). Now sprinkle in sentences here and there about plants and soil and whatever you can glean from a gardener, and you're there. This ain't completely easy, but you clearly have the skills and will. Good luck!

KarenG said...

Now I just have to read your book when it comes out and see if it rings true to the soul of gardening....hehehe. I got my edits back this week with the comment that she hated my main character in the first 5 chapters. So yeah, I've got to fix that!

Old Kitty said...

Awwww! I say buy a pot, fill with soil, plant a seedling and see what happens! Don't forget to put it where it'll get plenty of indirect sunlight and to water every so often! Et voila! Gardening research over! :-)

You are NAKED Tart! You will find a way! Take care
x

Michael Offutt, Visitor from the Future said...

Grow tomatoes. That'll teach you some gardening.

Nancy said...

I hate that being called into the office feeling. Even if you haven't done anything wrong, you feel guilty. It sounds like you wrote a great book that they want more of instead of less. So what they want more of is the gardening part but it is still you writing it. Good luck.

Southpaw said...

Darn those pesky details! Well, the good news is you can fix 'em.

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

heehee! i love the little one in the middle of that pic, not buying into all the glitz and glamouring phony crap!

anyway,
i seems like agents and editors are often telling writers that they need to tweak here and there on their ms's. i wouldn't freak out too much, or die or anything. just strip down, get in the tub, and think about flowers or something. :P

ooh! and you should talk to emily white, she's a super gardener! maybe she could give you some info?

Alison said...

Ouch! Been there! I'd love to say I could help, but I kill off fake plants. My cozy would be "Who Murdered the Aspidistra?" It wasn't Miss Marple, that's for certain.

Trisha said...

I suck at gardening too - I always feel terrible for the poor plants that people give to me.

Don't feel too bad, Hart - at least you weren't told, "Your writing blows, get lost"! Could be a whole lot worse. :)

Hannah Kincade said...

I have a brown thumb literally and figuratively. I feel ya on the gardening tip.

As far as the "fail", well my day job can be very frustrating...and I'll feel like that. I hope you feel better!

erica and christy said...

People actually LIVE in zone 7?? I thought that was a myth!

And not totally a mistake, since it worked out in the end, but I've been putting off taking a final exam for over 6 weeks now. It takes about 8 hours to complete it and I decided to do it today, after work. The grades are due Friday and I'd be allowed one do-over if I failed. Yeah, I thought the possibility of packing 16 hours of testing with 16 hours of work in 2 days sounded like fun. er (I passed by one question. one. hey, at least I passed!)
erica

RaShelle Workman said...

Hart - I have to say I think you're one of the MOST amazing people I know (even if it is only through cyber space). We all make mistakes, but I know you'll fix it and be better than ever. And, yes, I feel like I die a little every time someone give my book a bad review. I know I shouldn't, but... it's still there. xxxxxxxx

K.D.Storm said...

I enjoyed this piece and I can relate to a lot of what you are saying. I haven't died a little this year yet but I am sure its coming. Hang in there.

Anne K. Albert said...

I'm not a car person. They all look alike, except for color. I also have a problem differentiating blue from green, but that's another story.

Anyhoo, hubby reads my latest release and spots a character driving a BMW in one scene, and suddenly it's transformed into a Mercedes in the next. They're both expensive vehicles. Isn't that close enough?

Apparently not. Bottom line? I goofed. Writing isn't for sissies!