Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Love versus Passion

People who know me well, whether writers or friends or family, know that my passion is Russia. When I first joined ACFW, the project I was working on is what I call The Epic and what my sister calls my Three Volume Novel. (bonus points if you know what movie/play that comes from!)

Unfortunately for me, making a first sell with something set in Russia is pretty close to impossible. The only setting more difficult is probably medieval Japan. Michael Phillips and Judith Pella I am not.

With that in mind, and since I'm serious about this writing thing, I decided it was time to change tactics a little bit. So I started thinking about things I love. The first thing that popped into my head was the South. Kind of obvious since I live here...

Specifically, Louisiana. And plantations. Louisiana is unlike any other state in the country, especially the southern states. We're French. Even now, on the eve of our statehood bicentennial, we're French. Our legal code is French in origin, those of us who grow up here default to French pronunciation when we see strange words, and in Lafayette the street signs are in English and French. When you cross into Louisiana over the Natchez, MS bridge, the welcome sign is in English and French. I'm not Creole, or French, but French things come natural to me because I've lived in Louisiana all but the first 18 months of my life.

From September 2003 to September 2007, I worked at Kent Plantation House. First as a part time tour guide, then head tour guide, then archivist. I spent the most pleasurable five months of my life typing up the ledger/day book of the second owner, Robert Cruikshank Hynson.

In the pages of that book, a plantation was born in my head. Four years ago I decided to turn it into a novel starring the mulatto son of a French Creole cotton planter and the South Carolina born governess he falls in love with. It started out as my "yellow fever story". Naturally it morphed and grew and turned into a three book series, the fever became typhoid, and lo and behold I finished my first novel!

Why did I do that? Because it's something that stands a better chance of getting me in the door and making that crucial first sale. And it's part of a plan. I love my state, I love French Creole history and culture.

But my passion is still Russia. My passion will always be Russia. I've spent the last three years looking for a way to bring a Russian to 19th century Louisiana. I finally found it, and with that book I will introduce my love of all things Russian.

I'm still Russian Rachel! The only difference is I now have a plan. A way to make that crucial first sale, build a reputation as a writer in love with exotic and slightly foreign cultures, and open the door to actually selling The Epic. (which is what I'm working on right now, to reset my brain before starting revisions)

Monday, August 8, 2011

I did it!

I finally did it. I typed THE END on my very first completed novel. At 1:54 pm yesterday afternoon.

Everything has changed now. And yet everything is still the same. I am now completely at ease with calling myself an author, a writer, and a novelist.

I can't remember the statistic for the number of people who want to write a novel. It's big. Very big. But less than a fourth of them actually finish one.

My final word count clocked in at 110,320. I've got some cutting to do, but not as much as you think. I'm targeting Revell, and I love 100K+ books. So that's what I wrote. I only need to cut about 7,000 words. Since I build in scenes, this won't be too difficult. And I'm actually excited about it.

I'm setting it aside for a week or so, to let it settle before I start revisions. I've been wrapped up in this thing for three years so I need a little distance. In the meantime, The Epic is calling. Loudly. So I plan to indulge.