Honorary Heartlette – Kristan Higgins

July 1, 2007 at 7:40 am | Posted in Honorary Heartlette, Kristan Higgins, writing | 2 Comments

Greetings, writers! I was so flattered to be asked to guest blog on this website, knowing the founders are wicked cool, smart and fun! Quite heady, to be on their website!

As of this moment, I just sent in my third romantic comedy to HQN, called (for now) ONE OF THE GUYS. This book is scheduled for August 2008, following CATCH OF THE DAY (October 2007) and FOOLS RUSH IN, my debut novel. I’m also cranking out the first draft of a new book, tentatively entitled THE PERFECT MAN. My titles all change, however…one of the surprises of publishing.

When I started writing, I was blessed and cursed by knowing nothing at all (as Meg and Bria can well attest, since they listened to me whine about it last month). It was a curse, because I had no community, no time-proven and helpful websites, no local chapter, no fellow newbies who knew what I was going through. Writing can be lonely work. I had no idea what to expect at each turn in the road, no one to shepherd me along and shore up my battered ego. But my ignorance was also a blessing, because I wasn’t saddled with knowing who was looking for what and when. I had no idea that romantic comedy wasn’t selling…that vampires were in…that 100,000 words was too long. So my ignorance served me there…Remember that whatever’s hitting bookstores now was written 2 years ago, so it’s not necessarily what’s hot right now.

So there’s a lot to be said for ignoring all the industry gossip and advice and just writing what you write well, regardless of what’s in at the moment. And that’s kind of me, anyway…Connecticut Yankee with a Puritan work ethic. When I started writing FOOLS RUSH IN, I’d been staying at home with the wee bairns, throwing rocks in the duck pond and playing a lot of Bob the Builder. My husband (Saint Terence of the Firehouse) understood, bless his dear Irish heart. He said he’d give me a year to finish the book and get started on a writing career. Otherwise, back to copywriting I’d go, once our younger kid started first grade. A year. Hence the buckling down. Hence the “just get something down on paper.” Hence the plowing forward with revisions.

So that’s my advice, newbie writers! Finish the book. Find a good critique partner. Stop checking your email and Googling old boyfriends. Just write. Finish. Then get excited about revising, because writing equals revising. A lot of revising. Your CP, your agent, your editor will all ask for revisions. Make them. Learn to love them. Your book is a product sold to a market. Listen to what the market says. And remember, revising is different from tinkering. Tinkering is when “red” becomes “scarlet.” Revising is when you delete the whole scene, add a brother when there was none and change the heroine’s profession. Don’t be afraid. At the heart of your book is you. The voice. The essential story. That won’t change, no matter how many revisions you go through.

When I write a first draft, I am very conscious of the fact that probably ever single sentence is going to change. Every bleeping one. The first draft is really more of an expanded outline for me. I make a document and add to it as I go along. This document is called “Things that are wrong.” Depressing? Nah. Just a guide of what needs changing. I can’t wait to finish the bleeping first draft, because to me, revisions are when my book becomes really good. Marketable. Sleek. Funnier. When the voice really pops through, now that the details have been wrestled onto the page. This is when the book becomes mine, and when it becomes really good. And you want to submit your absolute best work. There’s no point in sending out a manuscript when you yourself know there are problems. An agent won’t critique the book (unless she’s signed you already). That’s what your CP is for, and that’s why you listen to her.

Oh, and one more thing. It takes a long time. Even when things go fast, it takes forever. Don’t take it personally. Don’t become bitter. Publishing is a behomoth of an industry. You’ll get the call. A contract will come 6 months later. The actual book? A year and a half (sometimes more!) after the call. So keep plugging away, understanding that the system is horribly flawed. And in all this time, don’t stop writing new stuff. It’s the lifeblood of a writer, falling in love again with every new story. Give yourself permission to fall in love again.

All the best, newbies! If one day our paths cross, make sure you stop by and say hello, okay? I’ve been where you are. And you’ll be where I am, too (however dubious an encouragement that may be). So let’s be friends, shall we?

All the best, Kristan




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  1. Dear Kristan,
    I read Fools Rush In and loved it. I just read an article/comments by Shirly Lyons at The Romance Reader. She didn’t didn’t like your main character, Millie. Ignore her. Millie was great. The fact that most of us would not have spent a good part of our lives mooning over a man only to discover that he had clay feet doesn’t matter. What matters is that it was quite believable that Millie did so–even though she was smart and accomplished in many other ways.

    My heart went out to her and I found her to be very courageous in going forward in her crazy misguided way to find happiness.

    Usually I don’t like first person, but I liked it in this story. You managed to write Millie’s story from her perspective — and STILL let us know that Millie was misguided.

    In any case, keep writing. I’ll keep reading your stories.

    Thank you.

  2. […] Heartlette, Kristan Higgins, books, new releases | Today we celebrate the release of new books by Honorary Heartlette Kristan Higgins and Purple Hearts Favorite J.R. Ward.  We’ve been anticipating these new […]

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