Saturday, November 3, 2007


Coming in at a whopping 78,250 words, FOR MERCY'S SAKE is finished. I added over 11,000 words during revisions. I really like writing in this manner. I found it much easier to add than remove material.

In celebration, I went to B&N, wanting to see what was popular in this genre and to treat myself to a new book. As I went up and down the aisles, I kept thinking about something an agent mentioned in a rejection letter. Make sure to draw me in. I looked at several books, reading the backs, the beginning chapters, random sections. Sorry, I wasn't drawn in. Ready to give up, a lady with a hand shopping basket came into the aisle. I didn't know her from Adam, but I thought, eh, why not? She didn't stand a chance.

I stopped her before she got to the first shelf. "Who do you read?" I asked as bold as thunder. We were meant to meet. She looked at me as plain as anything and told me, "I read everyone." Jackpot!! She lifted her basket and said she fills one of these a month. She was there for her fresh supply. Naturally, I couldn't let her go now. I asked what period she liked. She said she preferred historicals, but she can't find many of those (stern glare to agents and publishing houses), so she is forced to also read contemps. She proceeded, at my urging, to tell me who she reads and what she likes about them.

Filling my arms with as many of her suggestions as I could carry, I waddled to a table. Armed with a large coke and an ultimate brownie, I dove in. I saw her points about each selection. Once again, out of a dozen books, only one had an opening that wowed me. I replaced each book to the shelf before the cafe asked me to leave for taking up so much table time.

I can't say that I came away knowing what is popular, but I do know what one avid reader is looking for, and I am definitely in the ballpark.


Jane Richardson, writer said...

Interesting! And I'm with you on this 'historicals aren't selling' thing, what rot. People are obviously loking for them.
One thing worries me though - 'FORCED to read contemporary,' cough splutter sharp intake of breath! I hope you told her about a fantastic contemporary coming out soon!!!
(With a great opening line....! ;-)
J x

Carol A. Spradling said...

Hi Jane,

I know. Sorry, her word, not mine. Oh, yes. I made sure to tell her of upcoming releases and to be sure to look online in 2008.

One thing she mentioned that I SOOO agree with, and you'll be happy to know, your writing fits the bill perfectly. She said, she doesn't really care who an author is, the main thing she looks for is a good story. If there is sex in a story, she wants a reason for it being there. She doesn't want to read about it just because.

I loved talking with her. I felt like I got such an education. She mentioned one author that she loves. This is an author that is well known for one VERY bad habit. I asked her if that bothered her. She said no because the author is able to convey the heart of the story and keep her attention there. I gotta tell you, this made me pause. I came away with a different thought toward that author, and yes, one of her books was in my pile. Never thought that would happen.

I wish I could have talked with her more, but I didn't want to appear creepy, and I think I was very close to the line.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

I was so interested in the marketing/story thing, I forgot to say CONGRATS on finishing! Well done!!!
I think I can guess the author, and if I'm right, I know what bad habit you mean. She's famous for it. But I wonder - that particular bad habit is one thing that actually stops me finishing her books, and I've tried so many times - even to the extent of buying a trilogy in the hope it'd keep me hooked. No chance. That 'Particular Bad Habit' is the one thing that shuts me down every time - but could it be that I read more critically because I'm a writer? Heck, I've seen it in Pulitzer winners, and I still hate it!
Thing is, you can't get away with bad habits unless you're big time and can do what the heck you like...or so they say! My gut feeling is still that writing is so much better without that PBH. Funny - I was going to blog on that subject. Maybe we should get our heads together on it. :)

J x

Precie said...


And thanks for that fascinating trip to the bookstore! I have such a poor sense of what's popular. What a great way of measuring potential audience! I'll have to try that myself next time I'm at B&N.

Carol A. Spradling said...

Hi Jane,

From what you've said, I think you do know who it is.

I'm always up for collaberations!

Carol A. Spradling said...

Hi Precie,

Thanks!! It will be nice to have a few weeks before sending queries.

The bookstore: I never know what makes a book popular. And to be honest, I generally have little interest in the books that are posted on the best seller list. Still, there is much that can be learned concerning style and technique. That's what I was after. What do other authors do that get them to the top spots? I"m finding it hard to be an annalytical person in a subjective world. (s)

Beth said...

From what you've said, I think you do know who it is.

OK, ladies...

If you're going to be all coy and such about who the author is, fine -- at least tell me what the bad habit is? I mean, what if it's something I'M doing???

Carol, congrats on finishing. Wow. Good for you.

Carol A. Spradling said...

Hi Beth,

I don't think this habit is anything you do. This author head-hops, with no end in sight, in every book she writes. It amazes me that no has asked her to stop doing it.