The YA Indie Authors are starting a new monthly series, Toni’s Big Six Journey. It one where a starting-out and talented new author, Toni Lombardo, will share her trials and tribulations as she makes her way to the Big Six. She’ll talk about pitches, writing, conferences, social media, and/or anything else she sees and does on this journey.
And now – here’s Toni!!
LIGHT ‘EM UPI guess I should start off with saying who I am: My name is Toni Lombardo. I am a writer. I am going the traditional route (ya know, “The BIG six”, I want to be affiliated with Penguin/Random House, but for right now, I am in the transition state.)
The transition state. I am working with a great guy named David Henry Sterry (The Book Doctor). I met him and his wife Arielle Eckstut in the beginning of October 2011. I went to a book convention and met them and hit it off. Since then I have been working with him on my book. I sent a copy of my book and he said it wasn’t ready yet, then I edited it a little and he said that it wasn’t ready for the world. He asked what I was doing in writing now and told him all the stuff I am working on. I told him that I felt like my writing had improved since I was sixteen when I first finished the original copy I sent him (started it when I was fifteen). He told me it was FANTASTIC for a sixteen year old writer but not ready for publishing.
Now, before I get to the good part here is the great thing about David, he is wonderful and gets writers because he is a writer. He started to say something, “Have you considered…” and paused. When he hesitated I said “rewriting it?” He said yes. The thing I loved about the hesitation it showed that he didn’t want to crush my dreams. I mean really how if I went the traditional, traditional route, you know…edit sent to query, would that have ended up? I would have gotten rejection after rejection and never have known why…I mean ask any author there are millions of horror stories. I had one friend who burned her only manuscript because of an agent. This guy David approached the topic carefully and caringly. He told me what needed work; he didn’t shoot me down and crush my dreams and tell me I was untalented (or true story talked to an agent she said no. Then told someone she didn’t like me or my book.)
The rewrite turned out to be the best thing that could happen. The book is part 1 in a 5 book series and I have written through the halfway mark in the third novel. In doing that my book changed so much. Not enough for a reader to pick up on, but enough for me the author to cringe over.
Like I said I was fifteen when I started the novel and there were things I was afraid to write. I was afraid what people would think of me, what judgments would be made. Some people told me I was a bad ‘Christian’ because of the content of my book. Now, hold up right there—advice—NEVER, NEVER let anyone get away with saying that! You’re writing doesn’t make you more or less of whatever religion you choose. You’re writing doesn’t make you a good or bad believer of your faith. Back to what I was saying, I was afraid to write certain scenes. But as I got older and my characters aged the book had to mature. I had to write those scenes, and you know what they turned out great. So in the rewrite I was able to have the foundation down of the book, but the knowledge of what my characters decided to do in their lives and the maturity to write the scenes in ways that would create tight bonds between every word, sentence, and book. I think every writer should have at least the second book in the series written before trying to publish the first. Because no matter how hard you try to stay to your plot your characters will make their own decisions and mess everything up, but that is the beauty of writing.
The rewrite has revealed to me so many things that were just cringe worthy, where if that book was published I would have gone into hiding and never write anything ever again, not a grocery list, not a birthday card. Yeah, that is how bad the first go around was. It is truly embarrassing. I had and have supportive friends who loved the first edition, because they didn’t see my full potential, but David did. And now when they read what I am doing now they kind of laugh that they thought the first edition was good, (they aren’t being mean, it was that bad, like really) and tell me how much I have improved.
I keep getting off topic. In rewriting you will find ways to make your book better in ways you couldn’t have imagine for 5 reasons: 1- you have matured in life and writing, 2-your life experiences have influenced you and made you better, 3- your characters have aged in the books, 4-your story is becoming more complex and real and lastly the most important, 5-you know your characters better!
Knowing your characters, loving, hating, crying for/with your characters is what makes your book great, because if you don’t do all that, then there is a possibility that your readers won’t either. Your characters have to be real, and I don’t mean realistic, they have to be real to you before they can be real to others. Because when they are real to other people—that is when you have truly have succeeded. Having a best seller is great, having a movie made is great, being in demand is great, but the true test of success is what I said above, when your fictional character takes on a life for a person who doesn’t know you, just bought your book, your reader then you have succeeded. It doesn’t matter if you sell one or countless books; true, true success is when your characters become real to someone else. I know I said that what three, four times, but it is important. And my next post will talk about the importance of connecting with characters.
Toni’s Motivating Quote: We write for ourselves.
Toni’s Listening to: Fall out Boy, My Songs Know What You Did in The Dark (Light Em Up)