Sometimes things just hit you over the head.
Like many people, the writing portion of my life went comatose after college. I was immersed in building a career in art and raising a child. Evidently, my brain was covertly working overtime, because the urge to write erupted in 2005 and hasn’t stopped. I found myself writing romantic suspense, between compulsive bouts of poetry.
Speeding Tickets came out of nowhere. The characters already knew who they were and where they wanted to go. They borrowed heavily from my mental data stash, but really weren’t metaphors for me or anyone I knew. Pages gushed out of me. My story seemed finished, until I attended my first writers’ conference.
Like any starry-eyed newbie who has sunk heart and soul into their first novel, I offered up my virginal manuscript to a seasoned professional, breathless, anticipating validation of my toil.
“Your story really doesn’t start until Chapter 4.” Author Shirley Jump stated my plot needed refinement and pizzazz. It was suffocating from superfluous verbiage and passive writing. She calmly shredded the first five chapters (no, not physically).
Amazingly, I didn’t cry, gnash my teeth, or contemplate torching all 120,000 words on a ceremonial bier. Everything made sense. It energized me. My brain was on the right track but had work to do. It was the best possible form of rejection.
Not long afterward, I met a retired professional editor, completely by accident. She offered to look at my writing and reached the same conclusion as Ms. Jump. On condition of anonymity, she offered to help. Her specialty was developmental editing. Figuring this was a billboard-sized sign from heaven, I ran with it.
I re-organized, re-worked and re-wrote. She pointed out weaknesses and anomalies, advised and suggested improvements. I could accept or reject everything, but I at least had to be open and consider things. More often than not it was as if she could read the back of my mind, putting into words what my subconscious had already figured out but couldn’t seem to get across. The story lost 40,000 words, becoming a clean, tight, engaging account of two people getting a second chance at love.
My Take (Two Thumbs Up)
Most of my reviews are usually lengthy. I apologize to Ms. Brown for the brevity of my review due to illness. At first, I didn't know what Speeding Tickets would be about, but I soon found myself riding along with Christine on her voyage of self-discovery and new beginnings.
Ms. Brown has done something few authors have had the courage to do...make a fifty-year-old woman the heroine. Many women find themselves restarting their lives in their middle years and should be able to identify with Christine as a grieving widow.
Christine demonstrates both vulnerability and strength, making her a well-rounded heroine. The arrival of Doug, the handsome biker into her life and has her taking turn on an unfamiliar path.
This is a fun read for all, but I am willing to bet women who have struggled with loss in their lives will enjoy Christine's adventure more.
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