Book Title: Must Love Otters
Author: Eliza Gordon
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Recommended Age: 17+
Release date: Oct. 29th, 2013
About the Book:
Hollie Porter is the chairwoman of Generation Disillusioned: at twenty-five years old, she’s saddled with a job she hates, a boyfriend who’s all wrong for her, and a vexing inability to say no. She’s already near her breaking point, so when one caller too many kicks the bucket during Hollie’s 911 shift, she cashes in the Sweethearts’ Spa & Stay gift certificate from her dad and heads to Revelation Cove, British Columbia. One caveat: she’s going solo. Any sweethearts will have to be found on site.
Hollie hopes to find her beloved otters in the wilds of the Great White North, but instead she’s providing comic relief for staff and guests alike. Even Concierge Ryan, a former NHL star with bad knees and broken dreams, can’t stop her from stumbling from one (mis)adventure to another. Just when Hollie starts to think that a change of venue doesn’t mean a change in circumstances, the island works its charm and she starts to think she might have found the rejuvenation she so desperately desires. But then an uninvited guest crashes the party, forcing her to step out of the discomfort zone where she dwells and save the day … and maybe even herself in the process.
Advice for New Writers – from Eliza Gordon
You’ve got an idea in your head—you’ve been carting it around with you for weeks, months, maybe even years. Your friends/mom/coworkers/spouse say, “You should write a book.”
But before you put pen to paper, it probably wouldn’t hurt to learn a little something about the suffering you’re willingly subjecting yourself to.
1. Learn the rules before you break them. This is an old adage but one that bears repeating. New writers often set out gung ho, ready to write something avant-garde and innovative. But before you fall in love with your own clever excellence, take some time to learn the basics. Once you get the rules under your belt and you understand how the process of writing works, then you can pull out your sledgehammer.
2. Study the masters. But I hate Shakespeare! Jane Austen was such a bore! Who cares about Faulkner or Hemingway? You don’t have to read these folks, but at least give yourself an understanding of the dynamics of storytelling. Google the Hero’s Journey. Read up on story structure. And don’t be afraid of Shakespeare—there’s a great website called No-Fear Shakespeare that can help you understand why, 500 years later, we’re still talking about his work.
3. READ. A lot. When you’re not writing, you should be reading. Read everything. Read across genres. Read stuff that makes you uncomfortable and stuff that you don’t understand. I have a writing friend who tells me she doesn’t like to read other people’s books because she’s afraid she will copy that writer’s style. This is a newbie concern—and once you start writing, sure, you might copy your favorite author’s voice for a little while. But with patience and practice, your own voice and style will break through and your confidence will grow. Reading the work of other writers will inform your writing—pay attention to their use of language, their employment of literary devices, the emphasis paid to detail. If you truly want to write your best words, become a student of language.
4. Writing is REwriting. Writing is no different from the other fine arts—in order to improve, you must continually strive to do better. While you might be madly in love with your words and your story—I so know this feeling—editorial help can go far in identifying weaknesses that, once rectified, can fortify your story and take it to the next level.
5. Seek out, and learn to accept, constructive criticism. You’re fooling yourself if you only listen to the advice of your mother and/or best friend. Open your work up to reputable, knowledgeable readers—and be prepared when they come back with less-than-glowing criticisms. Seek out critique partners, beta readers, even a writers’ group. If you can, seek out a mentor, a writer with publishing credits who is available for consultation (though don’t expect them to work for free—few writers are rich, despite popular belief to the contrary). When the criticism comes back, you don’t have to implement all the suggested changes, but pay close attention if multiple readers are addressing similar
issues. This indicates a bigger problem than someone not liking the color of your main character’s hair.
6. Learn humility. You are not the best. There will always be someone better. And there will always be someone worse. As my darling friend and fellow editor Adrienne (now the managing editor of Writers Digest magazine) says to me often, “You do you.” Keep your head down, be grateful for your small successes, and work every day to make yourself a better writer.
7. Learn to let go. In my other life, I’m an editor. A lot of books and projects come across my desk, my red pen always at the ready to do her dastardly best. As I often tell my clients, “In order for your book to grow, you must let the ego go.” You say, “But I LOVE my book! Why should I listen to anyone? I know best!”
My young adult novel, the one that started as a fantastical short story in 2007, is under contract with a Big Five publisher. And I am on my fourth draft, well into my second year of rewrites, with a top editor. (This doesn’t include the prior drafts that happened before Hadley got hold of the book.) At first, she’d come back with “maybe fix X and Y and there’s a serious problem with Z,” and I would cry and spit and cuss. But after 24-48 hours of pacing the floor and eating unhealthy quantities of Oreos, I’d arrive at the realization that she is absolutely right. And the story is far stronger today than it was when this process commenced.
The day I learned to let go of my ego and listen to those with greater experience than my own, I opened myself up to some amazing growth. It was a new day.
8. Thicken your skin. Whether you’re going the traditional route and will be seeking an agent and eventually an editor (if your book sells), or if you’re self-publishing and will be releasing the project into the Big Bad World on your own, be prepared for the naysayers. Not everyone is going to love your work. I have my agent check Goodreads because I can’t face the trolls—my skin is thick, but I also know my limits. If a 1- or 2-star review pops up and attacks me personally (rather than providing an objective review of the work), it hurts. A lot. Be prepared for this, and set up personal boundaries and limits as to how eagerly you will seek out negative reviews. Better yet, DON’T READ THEM. Some folks provide constructive or bona fide complaints about a story; still others will seek to drag you down into their muck with negativity and meanness. Know your limit for what you can handle, and move on.
9. Learn to love research. Research nowadays is so easy—thank you, Internet! Think of those poor writers who used to have to spend hours in the library, poring over card catalogues and book stacks. Even if your story is set in your hometown and you know everything about the characters and setting, don’t be afraid to throw yourself into research to deepen the story. During the research process, I often stumble upon cool new facts or ideas that I then implement into the story. Research is awesome!
10. KEEP WRITING. Journalist and bestselling writer Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, cites the “10,000-hour rule,” which states that with 10,000 hours of practice, a person can consider him- or herself an expert in a given field. In literary circles, I’ve heard that one million is the lucky number—once you’ve written over a million words, you should have a pretty solid base from which to grow. (Granted, this is ONLY if you’re allowing that growth to happen by sharing your work and learning new skills from knowledgeable teachers. Writing is not a solitary endeavor!)
I know folks who declare themselves experts simply because they’ve sold a thousand copies of their book on Amazon—which is great for them, but the only TRUE way to become an expert at anything is to keep writing. Even if that means a million words or 10,000 hours. Every minute counts, so pick up your pencil, turn off Netflix, and get to word-making!
At the end of the day, you must treat this process with respect. Readers will eviscerate you in the reviews if you crap out a book and expect them to clamor around for your loving attention. Give the story its due diligence, and you will find the reward: a story that shines, and readers who love it.
Best of luck, and happy wordsmithing!
About the Author:
Eliza Gordon is a husband-and-wife team of controlled chaos who writes stories to help you believe in the Happily Ever After.
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