MYSTERY WE WRITE Blog Tour

BIRTHING A BOOK IS HARD WORK!

Jackie King

Sharon Ervin and I have known each other for a long time. We co-authored a book together (my first) called CHIK~LIT FOR FOXY HENS. This collection of novellas written by four Oklahoma authors was a fun task for all of us.

For me writing isn’t an occupation, it’s a love/hate relationship—an ongoing struggle to get the stories out of my head and onto the blank screen I’m facing. One even might compare this process to giving birth.

Characters Fight to Live

While writing my cozy mystery, THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE, the characters became so real to me that I had to make them into a series. I just couldn’t bear saying goodbye. And the next book, I foolishly figured, will be easier. I already have the main characters, I’ll just kill a person or two, (preferably someone I don’t like very much in real life…my ex-husband, perhaps?), supply a villain and a few other suspects, and then sprinkle in some red herrings. What could be easier? This new novel will be more like an exercise in discipline and less like stabbing myself in the heart with a dull knife. (The method I used to create THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE.) I titled this new work SKELETON IN THE CLOSET and began with high hopes.

Another Illusion Down the Drain

Alas, an easy flow of prose was not to be mine. Innocent as a babe (which is kind of pitiful, when you think of it), I sat at my desk, fingers on keys, and my mind a complete blank. I couldn’t even come up with an opening line that I liked. I tried a few, then left one because I needed something on paper.

Okay, I decided, no need to worry about the opening just yet. I’ll come back to this later and skip to the second scene to write some dialogue and a bit of action. And for that one day my method worked. The ‘Muse’ sat on my shoulder and whispered words into my ear.

“I LOVE WRITING,” I proclaimed to my messy and cluttered office.

Things Have a Way of Turning Out So Badly

The second morning I awoke full of enthusiasm, had coffee, oatmeal and blueberries (breakfast of choice dictated by my cardiologist) and went to work. Following my usual habit, I read a few pages of yesterday’s copy to get me started. Oh crap, I thought! Every word that had been written the day was garbage, good enough only to line the cat’s litter box. My heart sank. Suddenly it seemed as though I was walking through wet concrete—up to my neck—and shod in cast-iron boots.

“I HATE WRITING!” I shouted across the room at my dictionaries.

Luckily I’d walked this path before, so instead of hitting the delete key, I switched to preparing a lesson for a novel writing class I was teaching that evening at Tulsa Community College.

Sanity Returns

I always begin each class with a pep talk emphasizing the importance of writing every day. Regardless. The age-old formula I always tell my new students begins in this way: Pour a pot of glue on your chair and sit down—then write. There will never be a good time to write. Do it anyway. If you worked at Wal-Mart as a greeter, you’d leave dishes in the sink, a clutter in your living room and an unmade bed if that was what it took to be at work on time. Do the same for your writing career.

I took a deep breath, switched to the document file for SKELETON IN THE CLOSET, and began typing…one word after another.

Two weeks later I couldn’t tell where one day’s work stopped and another day’s work started. It all sounded the same.

“I LOVE WRITING!” I proclaim to all the readers in cyberland.

And the beat goes on.

Jackie King on Cozy Addicts:

I was an addict by age seven and it was all my school-teacher mother’s fault. The gift she brought me from the State Teacher’s Meeting looked innocent enough, a Bobbsey Twin mystery, THE SECRET AT THE SEASHORE, but one taste of that book and I was forever enslaved. As soon as I devoured one story, I had to have another. I finished the “Bobbsey Twins series” and almost panicked. Then an older girl whispered to me about something even stronger—something called Nancy Drew. For awhile I found relief in these teen stories, but soon they weren’t strong enough. An addict will find her fix somehow and I stumbled onto THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD and I started mainlining Agatha Christie. I was a goner. Nothing would stop the craving except another book and then another book. So I wonder…are there any other souls in cyberland who would like to join my therapy group? I’ll start. “My name is Jackie, and I’m a Cozy Addict…”

(Sharon is guest blogging today with Mystery Author Pat Browning at: http://pbrowning.blogspot.com

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About sharonervin

I write novels for and about women. I work half-days in my husband and son's law office. A former newspaper reporter, I have a B.A. in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. I have four grown children.
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41 Responses to MYSTERY WE WRITE Blog Tour

  1. Jackie King says:

    Sharon, thanks for hosting me on your lovely website. If any of your readers have questions about writing, I’d love to hear from them.
    Jackie

  2. amyshojai says:

    Ah yes, the book/reader/writer addict. We are US…and it’s the other folks who just don’t understand. *s* Love the post. Since I’ve never given birth (other than to books), I can’t really compare but the angst, pain, and ultimate joy really can’t be denied. Great post!

  3. A. Marshall says:

    Thanks Jackie! That was a fun way to relate how difficult it is to get started sometimes. I also like your Wal-Mart analogy; I’ll probably steal it.

  4. That was a fun read. I think all of us authors feel about the same, but I loved how you explained it. Marilyn

  5. Donna Le says:

    Writing is like giving birth but there is less screaming during childbirth. However there are do-overs with the writing.

  6. Marilyn says:

    At least I can honestly say I never considered killing off my kiddo in my (ahem) 23 hours 41 minutes of labor. 😉 It seems I always reach a point in my books where I think I’ll just kill ’em all and end my misery NOW.

    When it’s good, it’s great. When it’s bad, it’s torture. And none of us would give it p for anything else, would we?

  7. jean maxwell says:

    Jackie such wit. You truly have a way with words. Can’t wait for Skeleton in the Closet to come. I am anxious to read it.

    Saturday, I drove Dad to an airplane fly-in and recommended your book to two women who like to read. Suggested they try to download it as an e-book. I pointed out that without a red-herring (in my opinion) I still missed the actual killer. Both seemed anxious to read An Inconvenient Corpse by Jackie King. I told them they would like the cozy little murder.

    Can’t help but love your point about W-M greeters. jean

  8. Great post to start out the Mystery We Write tour. We’re all going to have a hard time beating that. What a apt comparison. Since I’ve giving birth to more books than children but the pain and angst is there with them all. They are my babies!

    • Jackie King says:

      Thanks, Mary! I appreciate the kind words.

      I will be interviewing Mary Martinez as MY first guest blogger on COZY MYSTERIES & OTHER MADNESS this coming Thursday. Mary loves family and traveling to exotic places. (In that order.)
      Hugs,
      Jackie

  9. My longest labor was 7 1/2 hours, so birthing a book is definitely harder work than child delivery. And I’m not bragging about the labor thing…while you’re in it, no matter how long it is, it seems like an eternity. While writing a book IS an eternal frustration sometimes. Or maybe I should say CONFERNAL. Anyhow, I liked this blog and am excited about the mystery blog tour we’ve got going on. Check out Vivian Zabel on my blog, if you’re interested in Mystery, at http://jenndicamillo.wordpress.com/

    • Jackie King says:

      Jennifer, You made me laugh! And I agree that birthing a baby seems as if it will never end at the time of the agony. (A little drama here, in case any guys drop in.) 🙂

      Thanks so much for dropping by. I really appreciate it.
      Hugs,
      Jackie

  10. Vivian Zabel says:

    I know I left a comment, but it doesn’t show. Oh, well, I’ll write another one.

    Jackie, you and I have found ourselves in many of the same book events as well as in OWFI for years. It’s good to learn more about you.

    Vivian

    • Jackie King says:

      Thanks Vivian, for stopping by. I’ve had some trouble leaving comments, too. Sometimes I think those gobblins in cyberspace have it in for me.
      Hugs,
      Jackie

  11. Marja McGraw says:

    Jackie, Thanks for brightening my day. You said it all, and you said it with wit and charm. I’m updating my website today, and I needed a delightful break like reading your blog. Thank you!

  12. Great post, Jackie. I’ve suffered similar angst and book writing labor, but, like you, would never give up our shared addiction.

  13. Great post, Jackie. I’ve suffered similar angst and labor pains but, ike you, would never give up our writing addiction.

  14. Pat Browning says:

    Had fun reading your post, Jackie. What a great sense of humor you have! You’re up next week on my blog so I’ll finish my review of THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE. I retrieved it from My Documents tonight and saw that I started it in March. Oh-well — just adding more proof to my claim of being the world’s slowest writer! Carry on!
    Pat B.

    • Jackie King says:

      Pat, So nice to hear from you, and I’m delighted to hear you have a draft of a book review for THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE! I’ll really be lo0king forward to that.
      Blessings,
      Jackie

  15. Great article, Miz Jackie. It was fun to read!

  16. Great first interview of the Mystery We Write Blog Tour! Looking forward to all the rest.

  17. This was fun, everyone had so many sparkly things to say.

  18. Susan Case says:

    I loved reading this blog and will definintely pour a huge amount of glue in my seat to help me stay focused!

  19. Tessa says:

    I just found this blog, through the blog tour. I love blog tours because they bring me to new blogs and I learn about for me new authors. Thanks!

    • Jackie King says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Tessa. This blog tour has been a totally new experience for me, and I’ve loved it. First of all, just to be included, I had to HAVE a blog. So after Anne Albert’s invitation I had to build one. Talk about being both ignorant and green! I made some of the most foolish mistakes, but kept on, (too stubborn to quit) and it’s worked out well for me.

      Of course, this is Sharon’s blog, a bit fancier than mine, but if you like blogs, check out mine: Cozy Mysteries and Other Madness at
      http://bnbmysteries.blogspot.com

      Nice to meet you.
      Jackie King

  20. Jackie King says:

    Sharon, Once again thanks for hosting me on your Blogsite this week! I’ve had a good time!
    Jackie

  21. connie kiesewetter says:

    Sharon,
    So nice to meet another writer on your blog. I think I would like to read a Jackie King book. Also, I find her very encouraging and it takes a lot to encourage this tired old writer. It’s not my age that bothers me. It’s the mileage!

    CK

  22. Jackie King says:

    Hi Connie, Thanks for the kind words. If you read one of my books, please let me know how you liked it.
    Best,
    Jackie

  23. Pingback: MYSTERY WE WRITE Blog Tour – Week 5 | Sharon Ervin's Blog

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