Sunday, September 14, 2008

Writing Life: A Roller Coaster

I wouldn't be the first to describe the writing life (and especially the road to publication) as a roller coaster ride. It can slick your hair back, for sure. In all stages of the journey. As a NEWBIE writer, learning the craft: story structure, formatting, show-don't-tell, battling your vicious and nay-saying Internal Editor. As a writer SEEKING publication: attending conferences, entering contests, querying agents and editors, dealing with the Big R (aaagh . . . Rejection), waiting (always waiting) for The Call (acceptance from an agent and/or editor). Then as a PUBLISHED author: meeting deadlines, doing revisions, marketing and promotion, book tours and signings, speaking events, holding your breath for those early reviews, watching the sales numbers . . . brainstorming the next new project. Up, down, sideways, inside out--a thrill ride at the very least. It has been and still is that way for me.

And now, beginning Chapter Eight (or at the 35% mark, not that I'd actually work that out on a calculator of course) of DISASTER STATUS, I'm dealing with a roller coaster ride within a roller coaster ride. That is, I'm sending my hero and heroine (ER nurse Erin Quinn and fire captain Scott McKenna) off to the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk, where they'll be riding the famous Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster. The 6th oldest roller coaster in the country, it offers a spectacular view of Monterey Bay, and has appeared in motion pictures including “Sting II,” “The Lost Boys,” “Dangerous Minds,” and Clint Eastwood’s “Sudden Impact."

Legendary San Francisco columnist Herb Caen once wrote of the The Giant Dipper:

" . . .the great roller coaster arose amid screams above the golden strand of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk ... a tooth-loosener, eyeball-popper, and one long shriek.”

Don't ya love it? And if if that's not enough to whet your whistle, here's a Virtual Ride on the Giant Dipper. Click on that website's virtual ride photo if you dare. And don't be a sissy-- hold your hands up while you watch. (I've been on this coaster several times . . . this video is spot on!)

It's going to be great fun to write, and--face it--with characters who are up past their eyebrows in trauma, blazes, and a community-wide hazardous material disaster, I can't skimp on the R&R. I'm probably going to throw in some pink popcorn, mustard-slathered corndogs, Marini's salt water taffy . . . and then maybe a romantic walk on the beach under a spectacular sunset. Erin and Scott deserve at least that much, after the paces I've put them through in the first 7 chapters.

Speaking of roller coasters, the writing life, and R&R--Wednesday I'm flying off to Minneapolis to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference. I'm excited!! Not only will I be able to mingle with fellow writers, take part in workshops, lunch with my fabulous agent Natasha Kern, meet two Tyndale editors; I'll also be attending a star-studded booksigning at the Mall of America--which, of course, has its own roller coaster.

I'll be home on Sunday, and promise to share the conference highlights via this blog. And then I'll be back to the keyboard, strapping myself in for a wild ride on the Giant Dipper.

Stop by the office, I'll be easy to spot: the writer with the slicked-back hair and bits of pink popcorn (and the silly smile) on her face.

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