Saturday, June 8, 2019

WHAT WE'RE WRITING WEEK: Cover reveal for HID FROM OUR EYES!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I'm going to tell you all right up front, there's no excerpt from me today. I went back to the archives to see what I had already shared of HID FROM OUR EYES  and was amazed (dumbfounded, in denial) when I counted up all the time I've shared excerpts from my work-in-not-very-much-progress. 15 times, at an average of 400 words apiece, totaling 6000 words of a 114,000 word book. Like Gypsy Rose Lee in GYPSY, I've gotten down to my shoes and fan, and I need to duck behind a curtain quick before I give it all away.

I'm on the second round of edits right now, and it's going painfully slow. My editor is very good; he has a great sense of story and character, and a real ability to suggest changes that will shore up the weak spots. It's not his notes, it's me. After over five years with this manuscript (the first excerpt here was in November 2013!) I'm just so DONE with it. It's reminding me of mowing my lawn - I start out  filled with enthusiasm, meticulously cornering and overlapping the blade swaths, and three hours later I'm stumbling around the very back of the garden, sweaty, foul-tempered, and leaving all sorts of clumps and drifts of grass standing tall.

Which is not to say I won't do the job. I want HID FROM OUR EYES  to be good, and I want you, dear reader, to enjoy it very much, and the key to both those things is to rewrite and edit and polish and then do it again. In the meantime, I'm planning and plotting and dying to get started on the as-yet-unnamed 10th book in the series. Some authors will say they're daunted by the bare page - not me. It's like a clean linen sheet, waiting for me to roll in. My books are never as good as they are on the day I start a new novel, with the story spinning out before me in a Platonic ideal of fiction. This one will be perfect. It's not unlike getting ready for a first date - the time when you're alone at your apartment playing music and spritzing perfume is often the best part of the night.

Don't worry, as soon as I finish with the edits, I'm going to get very excited about HID FROM OUR EYES again. The wonderful folks at St. Martin's Press are planning all sorts of bells and whistles - giveaways and contests and special features and a great big book tour. I'll be sharing it all here and on my website and at my Facebook page, and I'm going to start with the gorgeous and ominous cover they've designed. Taa daa!




Dear readers, have you ever had to finish up the job when you really wanted to sneak out and start something entirely new?

63 comments:

  1. WOW . . . what an absolutely gorgeous cover . . . I’ve truly enjoyed every one of those 6,000 or so words you’ve shared with us and I cannot wait to read this book!

    I am quite familiar with that frustration of needing to finish something when I really want to be working on something else. But somehow I get through it, and then there’s that sense of happy relief that is pretty awesome, too . . . .

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    1. That's what I'm looking forward to Joan - being able to finally put paid to it and turn to my next project!

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    2. Going to have to reread the series before this one comes out! That will be a pleasure!

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  2. Yes, to answer your question, especially when it's the new book. I, too, love the blank page! Almost every time when I'm in the stage you're in, the next story is knocking at my brain.

    I also love the cover, and how splendid they are planning a splashy launch for you. You deserve it.

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  3. Oh dear Julia, what a roller coaster the last few years have been for you, and how you managed to get Hid From Our Eyes to this point is astonishing. The edits will get done, and the launch will happen, and you will recover from the tour and start again with a blank page.

    I have questions for you and for all the writers here: How do you separate your essence from your characters? Or do you? Is it even possible? Do you even try?

    Happy Friday. On Day Ten of this pesky pneumonia, I feel like a human again. Thanks for all the good wishes.

    xox Ann

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    1. Ann, so glad you are on the mend--pneumonia (at any age) scares me silly.

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    2. Pneumonia is the worst, Ann, and I'm also glad to hear you're feeling better. When I had it, I was not quite up to snuff for a few weeks afterwards, so take it easy!

      As for your question, I don't separate my essence form my characters, because I lean heavily on my training as an actor to create believable characters. The trick is to use what you know of and have experienced when it comes to emotions, without making making your cast self-inserts/wish fulfillment. An editor once told me the best writers are a little cool with their characters, and keep them at arms length - that way you can let them be themselves, even as you draw on your own self to animate them.

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  4. Gorgeous cover, Julia! And yes, I so get it. If only the final phases could be delegated but the truth is they cannot.

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    1. I know, I know. My mantra has become, "Good writing is rewriting."

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  5. Beautiful cover, Julia! And a great question. Do I ever want to sneak out and start something new? Today is the last day of a six-day band camp. I have had to get up at 4:30 am every day this past week to get to the camp on time. If camp had ended yesterday, I could sleep in this morning. So, yes. I'd love to be able to sneak out and start anything else--garden work, vacuuming, my new power nap regimen . . .

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    1. I like the sound of that power nap regime, Gigi!

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  6. I love your cover, especially the colors.

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    1. Thanks, Dru. I've been lucky to have some talented people designing my covers, and they've always done right by me.

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  7. What a beautiful cover, Julia.

    I'm quite familiar with the feeling. Usually it's something day-job or household-chore related that I have to finish before I can get back to my imaginary friends. :)

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    1. And then when its crunch time on your writing project, suddenly the household chores seem alluring...

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  8. Julia, we are writing soul sisters. I "get" being done with a book. That's exactly what I just said about my 9th one that I turned in this week. I was DONE DONE DONE with it. For now. Meanwhile, the next project is simmering in my brain, and I can't wait to start working on it.

    And the new cover is gorgeous. I'll be first in line to pre-order it!

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    1. Thank you, Annette! Yes, if there was one thing I wish I had a ghost writer for, it would be the edits. Imagine saying, "I'm done!" and having someone else make it pretty...

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  9. If, by some insane chance, I hadn't ever read a novel by Julia Spencer-Fleming, this cover would draw me like a magnet. And having waited eagerly for it, it is a knock-out! I remember some of those snippets you've shared, and cannot wait to get my hands on this book! And equally excited to know you are just as eager to start on the next one!

    And, oh sister, amen! Have I ever just wanted to be done (DONE DONE DONE) with a project! Some of my field projects required weeks in crappy motels, far from home, and the work was less than exciting. The drive home could be the best part of the entire project!

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    1. Flora, I have a good friend who worked for many years doing consulting on field projects - days and days of tramping around taking pictures, then weeks and weeks of writing reports. We would split a bottle of good wine whenever she finally finished up!

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  10. great cover! Like the church. I'm right there with you, moving commas, agonizing over deep POV, polishing sentences. But I cheated and wrote the first 30 pp of my next book to take advantage of two critique programs and a plotting class. The critiques and class materials are sitting in a spanking new plastic pocket folder. I give it a pat every morning. "Soon, Baby, I'll be with you soon."

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    1. Margaret, maybe I ought to do that, just to give myself something to look forward to!

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  11. Hang in there, Julia! You know you can do it! I can hardly wait to read it. :)

    "Dear readers, have you ever had to finish up the job when you really wanted to sneak out and start something entirely new?" I find that when I'm grading papers (I teach college writing), all kinds of story ideas occur to me and although I really want to stop grading and just write, I can't do that. My solution: write down the story ideas and keep grading. Now I just need to develop the discipline to make myself write every day.

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    1. And I taught a college class for the first time this past semester and found myself saying, "Now I just need to develop the discipline to grade a little every day!"

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    2. LOL. It's hard to make yourself write after dealing with student writing all day.

      That post was from me. I have no idea why my name didn't show up.

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    3. Still me. Still trying to make my name show up. SIGH.

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  12. Love this essay so much Julia, and I know we'll adore the book equally! thanks for persisting and the cover is STUNNING. XOXOX

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  13. Beautiful cover! I know the book will be amazingly wonderful! Yes, I truly understand wanting to ditch a project and start over with something else. How many unfinished knitting projects do I have lying around? Doesn't stop me from buying more yarn and seeing in my head what terrific new thing I will make (as soon as I get some time.)

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    1. Judi, I have a needlepoint pillow cover I started about 27 years ago... I just never liked the art where I had to block it and sew a backing. I think I'm seeing a trend in my psyche.

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  14. Such a beautiful cover! Can’t wait to read this! And thrilled that you’re already eager to write the next one. I felt that way writing BLIND SEARCH, the second in my Mercy Carr series (coming in November). And now I’m knee deep in Book Three, which is a lot more fun so far....

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    1. Oh, my gosh, Paula, you're going to be joining the Super Productive Writers club along with Jenn and Rhys! It's wonderful when the character carry you on and on, isn't it?

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  15. Every single time I start a decluttering project at home I realize I took on more than I should have. Every time. But instead of just plugging on through, I abandon it and begin something else that I think will be easier. Ha!

    Julia, I can’t wait for the next book, and the next, and the next..!

    DebRo

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    1. Thanks, DebRo. When I start a decluttering project, the problem is I always find I have to organize closet B before I do Closet A - and in order to proceed I have to clear our drawer C, cupboard D and shelf E. Which means I usually end up stuffing everything back where they were and shutting the doors.

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  16. Fabulous cover! I have been thinking about how wonderful it is of all of you writers to share with the non-writers out there, your process and your ideas and sometimes excerpts. It's very generous of you all.
    As for wanting to leave a project and begin another, well, I am with you there. If it's decluttering or needlepoint or grading papers, I always want to be on the next one. I keep promising myself that it will be better. Those last few yards are the hardest to achieve somehow. Thank you for your persistence.

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    1. They are, aren't they? I suspect the world is divvied up into two kinds of people: those who love it when everything comes together and they finish, and those who love to start in a surge of enthusiasm and then...not so much. I am definitely one of the latter.

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  17. I really, really like your cover and look forward to the book. For me, writing a novel is like pregnancy. First, I'm thrilled with the idea, then it become a little tedious, and then the reveals and climax renew the excitement. But as the close draws near, the last few chapters feel like I will never write the last page. (P.S. It's been a long, long time since I experienced pregnancy, but memories live on.) I'm currently in the last phase of my third book of the Shadow of Dance Series, THE STUDIO, with four more books nipping at the corners of my brain.

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    1. Same here re: pregnancy, but you're right, they're vivid memories and the analogy is sound. Finishing the book is like getting through the last month - you just want it to be here!

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  18. Like Judi, I have so much yarn in my little apartment, I visualize the stitch and size hook and then it will sit. The group I donated projects to doesn't exist anymore but that doesn't stop me from buying, though this year I am being strong(ish) only purchased a few hanks of yarn last February when I went to Stitches. I really need to find a Linus project group around here, maybe next year.

    I am waiting with baited breath for next year and reaquainting myself with Russ and Claire. Earlier this week the discussion was about cover art influencing our chooses - your titles caught my eye the first time - though no longer singing, after 27 years in Episcopal choir I had to pick up that first book.....then there was no going back.

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  19. I really, really like the cover, Julia. I'm eager for the book and (Im)patiently waiting for it. I have no doubt it will be every bit as wonderful as all the previous books in the series!

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  20. Julia, I love the book cover. I usually focus on the project that I need to finish. Like Scarlett O'Hara, I think about the next project tomorrow. LOL

    Diana

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    1. You're good, Diana. Maybe I just need adult Ritalin...

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  21. Julia, the cover is fabulous!! And I am thrilled that St. Martin's is making such a big push for you!!! I know exactly how you feel about the edits, too, having just gone through what seems like about twenty passes on mine....

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    1. Wouldn't it be lovely to have lazy editors who say, Yeah, okay, this is good enough?"

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  23. I find it equally hard to start a project as to finish one. But boy do I need to start a few! Love the semi-ominous cover. I know you've shared snippets in the past but if I can't remember them it doesn't count. Just saying.

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    1. Pat, I'm getting to the place where I can be surprised rereading my OWN books. I hear you.

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  24. I love this cover and it pulls me in hook line and sinker right away! I hate projects taking too long to finish when my enthusiam wains and I want to be on to more as well. Thank you for hanging in there!!

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  25. Oh, Julia, it's a spectacular cover! The colors are beautifully laid out, and the title cleverly hidden in the tall grass. I know that the contents are going to be just as amazing. As you say, even though you are ready to be done with it, you will do the work, and we readers will reap the benefits. I'm delighted to hear that you're excited about #10, too, as your fans want this series to go on forever.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy. I've always been fortunate to have great people working on my books at St. martin's. I've been very happy with my covers.

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  26. Nice cover reveal Julia!

    And pretty much anytime I have to do something that NEEDS to be done, I find myself wanting to do something that I WANT to do instead. So yes, there's plenty of times I HAD to finish something up. Heck just this morning with laundry, vacuuming and mopping the floor.

    And I'm sure I'll feel that way again tomorrow when I mow the backyard.

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  27. Jay, mowing the yard may be the only chore that makes scrubbing the bathroom look good to me.

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  28. I’m so excited for this book! I just re-read the series for the 4th or 5th time and will do so again prior to the release of Hid From our Eyes. Thank you for sharing your talents with us!

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  29. I'm a quilter. The planning, cutting and getting started are the "funnest" part. The finishing is always a problem for me... I have a zillion unfinished projects that will be done this year, dammit! LOL I'm looking forward to the book! Getter done! ;-)

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  30. Oh, the anticipation! I, too, plan to re-read from the beginning. It'll be so great to be in bed with Clare and Russ again, so to speak! (And your ominous cover is telling tales already--love it!)

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  31. Wow...looks a little spooky but love the colors. And I see you really HAVE been procrastinating when I look above at how many replies you've written (haha). Can't wait for this to hit the shelves...been too long to see how Russ and Clare are getting on.

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  32. Catching up like crazy! But we cannot wait! This is the fun part, it really is, and it will all be fabulously wonderfully worth it.

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