Friday, March 13

83 Days by Liz Flaherty #WordWranglers

The Wranglers are writing about game-changers this month. It was a subject I didn't even have to give much thought. I knew. I've always known.

I had to be at work at 5:15 a.m. The drive was 28 miles. I didn't wear any makeup in those days, or eat breakfast, so I could be dressed and have my coffee in a matter of minutes. Since I got up at 4:00, that didn't allow a whole lot of time for anything more detailed than brushing my teeth and--when I remembered--combing my hair.

But I had this story. I'd written the first few pages just for the heck of it, working on what I hoped was a southern lilt to my writing voice. And then I wrote a few more, captivated by a woman named Grace in a town called--of all things--Peacock. I'd written a whole manuscript there before, and I loved the setting. To this day, I wish that book had sold. I still have it somewhere. On 3 1/2-inch floppies that have become corrupted. Oh, well... I'm digressing. Again.

Back to Grace. She was different from most of the romantic novel heroines I'd read at the time. She was short, built like a boy, plain as a fence post, and had scruffy hair. She wore bib overalls and went barefoot.

Oh, I loved her. And Dillon--he loved her, too.

So I started getting up at 3:00 to write for a while before work. Sometimes I wrote longhand on my lunch hour--no laptops in those days. I wrote in the evening. On the weekends. It took me 83 days to write that first 90,000 words.

It was the best thing I'd ever written. It got me an agent--twice--and submission entry into every publishing house around. It went through at least three titles and more rewrites than I've done in all the years since--put together.

It took ten years to sell it. Ten years of full-manuscript requests and almost-offers and revisions. Revisions. Revisions. Carina Press finally said Yes.

Although I've enjoyed almost every editing and publishing experience I've had in my career, seeing Grace and Dillon's story, One More Summer, come to life and print in 2012 was the best of all. It's still selling a few now and then. I still get the occasional review or letter about it.

So, how did it change the game? Since I've never achieved quite the same publishing success or writing feeling again, wouldn't any change it wrought probably be negative instead of positive?

Oh, no. In the first place, because One More Summer had a sequel. The Healing Summer took a lot longer to write and not quite as long to sell, but like Grace's story, it has a tenacious hold on my heart.


Even more than that, it's positive because it showed me what is out there if you keep at it. It showed me that sometimes the book of your heart will be the book of other hearts, too. It reminds me still, when I think I've lost my writing chops, that no, indeed, I have not. Because the person who wrote Grace's story is still me. I've slowed down, I'll never write another book in 83 days, but I still have stories to tell. More books of my heart, and maybe of other hearts, too.

Thanks, Grace.




14 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post, Liz. :) It set the foundation for other books, right? Thank you for sharing and to many more stories!

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    1. Thanks, Mary. And, yes, it did. It also set the bar, which gets a little difficult sometimes. :-)

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  2. Great post, Liz. Good luck with all your stories. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. You are my inspiration! And I'm so delighted to know you have more stories to tell! I love your stories!

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  4. You are definitely an inspiration Liz! Here's to many more stories to come.

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  5. This was an inspiring post, Liz. Grace sounds lovable and fun. I'm glad you worked and never gave up. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. Thanks, Melody. She wasn’t always lovable, but that made it all the better to write her.

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  6. I adore Grace and One More Summer. Keep telling your stories, Liz!

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  7. A beautiful post. So glad it finally sold. There are books that just stay with you.

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