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What’s My Next Book? Going Out on A Limb

November 10, 2014

3greatnephews(Call me chicken, but this post is a bit of dare. My great nephews.)

I dreaded someone tagging me for the Ice Bucket Challenge but squeaked through. (No one tagged me, what does that mean, do they think I’m not up to it, that I’d be a party pooper, all those self-doubts flooded me.) But now a dear and young blogger (as in she’s been blogging only about as long as yours truly) has tagged me for Blog Tag.

Ok. I’ll play this.

Only! I’m supposed to reveal my WIP (Works in Progress) and for the first time in about 35 years, I have no WIP other than my blog which of course is a continual WIP. Sometimes people ask, “What’s your next book? What are you working on?” I always hesitate to reveal my next book just in case someone else would beat me getting it written. If “most popular blog post” titles logically lead to “next book ideas,” hands down my  most popular post (and most searched term) this year has been “60th birthday party ideas” stemming from this post about my husband’s 60th birthday party.  OK for a blog post, but definitely not something I want to write a book about! So …

Marian Beaman sweetly tagged me for this effort and I do enjoy her blog at Plain and Fancy. We have a lot in common: both grew up Mennonite and married (gasp) outside the fold. I married a Lutheran and together became Presbyterian—which is one of the threads of my life leading to the harmony name of this blog. Marian and I both grew up Yankees, and are now adopted Southerners. So if any of those themes interest you, do check out her blog. As a former English teacher, she always writes very well!

I have lots of WIP SOS (Works in Progress, Sitting on a Shelf) or in my case, HID (Hiding in a Drawer) because so far no editor has agreed that particular work is the next greatest thing after baked bacon (that’s how the bacon crumbles at my house). I’d also have to quit my day job where I am now an editor at a publishing house which is never going to publish another one of my books until I quit, I surmise, (which is good policy) but I would also hate to jump ship to another publisher, you know?

Here are two bulging files, and what has stalled them:

  • For The Session, I’d have to do a whole lotta research. Maybe when I retire.
  • For Abandoned! which I began in the 1990s and for which a publisher actually expressed interest, to make it publishable today, I’d have to start all over and include cell phones in the plot line!

So that is why I don’t have any current fiction WIP. But because I live, I write. And since blogging is an immediate outlet with almost immediate feedback, I’m enjoying it as a hobby and meeting other bloggers like the four I’ll tag below.

If you really want to read a sneak graph from the novels listed in my bullet points, I’ll divulge them, below. But I live in fear of someone saying, like the curmudgeonly dear woman did at one of my first “readings” for a writer’s group, long ago, where I talked about how I had turned some of my early poetry from my journals, into a coming of age memoir. She said to the whole group: “I think its good thing you gave up poetry.” 🙂

  1. Novel: The Session (Brief plot: Pastor’s fight against racism in the South in the 60s.)

Elder Fred Dochtery exits the sanctuary and slams the door, clearly not propelled by a sudden urge to use the men’s room.

Kelly Fiske holds her breath as her husband, David concludes his sermon. Why couldn’t he just preach about the fruits of the spirit or even David and Goliath? Then Kelly almost smiles. Her David insisted on taking on Goliath—not every week but often enough to keep the Session stirred up. This time it was likely his comment on race relations.

David scans the congregation. Should he proceed with the affirmation of faith? Even Chelsea Buttonwood’s two year old has quit jabbering. Should he follow Fred out and do … what? Fred surely hasn’t left the grounds—his wife Fran is still scowling in her pew, the purse on her lap posed for departure. If David walks out now, it will only lead to more disturbance.

  1. Novel: Abandoned! (Brief plot: runaway wife mistakenly thought to be kidnapped)

The thought of just driving off without him was so unthinkable, so bizarre at first, that she really was only bluffing when she put the car in reverse and backed up. Maybe he would see her backup lights come on and get the message her patience had once again run out.

How many times in her marriage to Timothy James Herald had she waited like this? Tim had no doubt struck up a conversation with some service plaza attendant. Ever the pastor, always finding someone new to shepherd.

She could make out Tim’s face by the cash register now. Sure enough, he threw back his head laughing as if the service station guy was his oldest friend. Nevermind she and Tim were already an hour late in starting out for Christmas at her folks, due to another last minute pastoral crisis.

  1. Magazine article: Here are the opening paragraphs from a soon-to-be published article in a magazine I edit, Valley Living. The piece is about Sonny Randle, a local NFL 10-year veteran, now in his late 70s and set to retire again, but this time from sports broadcasting. The article is due out at the end of November.

“Hiiiii, I’m Sonny Randle!” is the trademark opening radio line Sonny says in his sing- songy rural Virginia twang. He goes up high on the “I’m” that is easy to recognize, hard to imitate.

A lot of NFL professional football players in the 1960s would have loved to imitate his ability as a wide receiver to fly down the field to catch yet another touchdown pass. What was his secret?

Sonny keeps it simple, quipping, “I ran real fast, and if guys were chasing me, I ran even faster.”

Which of these would you want to read? Why? I welcome any critique (I’m a big girl). Should I give up writing the openings to novels??

And here I’m tagging four fascinating and varied bloggers, who are invited to participate as they are able/interested!

And if you’re still reading, here’s a link to my ongoing WIP, my Another Way Newspaper Column always looking for suggestions of new papers to carry the column!


From → Faith, Writing Life

  1. Wow, oh, Wow, Melodie. I had no idea you had so many works in progress (marinating, percolating, incubating – take your pick!) I appreciate the candor in this post and your willingness to list your many projects and the varying emotional connections to them.

    I look forward to the publication of the article about Sonny Randle. Should you giving up writing openings to novels? I say “No!” Which one to pursue? I’d vote from # 1 on religion and racism in the South if you are up to the research it would probably entail.

    Thank you for playing tag with me: Your picks are stellar: I am familiar with them all and admire their writings as well.

  2. The novel ideas are definitely just incubating. That list did not include the list of nonfiction WIP. I know the process of trying to start a novel has helped me be more respectful of the art of fiction writing. Thanks for including me in the blog tag.

  3. Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler permalink

    I really liked going out on a limb with you.
    Because I am sensitive to judgement I feel strongly how that comment about poetry impacted you.
    I’m glad you keep writing and finding ways to write and being invited to write and having projects in the bag.

    • You are very sweet, Dolores, to pick up on the criticism and how it affected me. It stung a bit at the time but as I got to know here when she started going to my church, I realized that was just her style of interacting and you can always learn something from fair critique. Glad you enjoyed my little limb! Thanks for the comment.

  4. Wow, I’m with Marian and Dolores above. You have a lot of WIP, Melodie, as well as thousands of pages of already-published words. You truly have made writing your calling.

    I commend you for going out on a limb offering up the quote about your poetry. It made me chuckle. None, if any, writers excel in any genre until they immerse themselves in it. Sometimes it’s good to focus on the ones that beckon clearly and give up others. Other times it’s best to thumb our noses at the critics (and the inner critic!) and keep going. When we can laugh about criticism, we are free of the sting.

    But always having something to challenge us means that we never stop learning. And when we are learning, we are really living!

    Write on!

    • Yes, in this case, I had illustrated that I thought too it was best to leave juvenile poetry writing days behind and wanted to show the other writers how it was possible to reshape it into prose. If we think marketing nonfiction prose is hard, I know that marketing poetry is even harder (not my own, but one early attempt through the old Mennonite Media to do a follow up to the best selling Heart to Heart Poetry Album and we could not find a publisher interested in poetry. Circa late 70s.) But I digress. Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. Melodie, thank you for sharing–you are a fountain of creativity!–and thank you for tagging me. Of course, I’ll play along and look forward to posting next week 🙂

  6. Don’t know about a fountain of creativity–maybe it’s a matter of being all over the map. Time to focus even more?? I will look forward to your post next week! Blessings….

  7. Best of all, I think, would be A Mole Among the Mennonites.

  8. I think you’re the one, SK, who last encouraged something on Escapades Among the Mennonites. Loving these ideas!!

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