Sometimes A Survey Is More Fun Than You Think


When I was tagged for the Next Big Thing by fellow writer Soniah Kamal, I thought, o.k., nice way to self-promote. Soniah is a book critic, novelist, short story writer, and blogger extraordinaire. She’s also programming director of the Atlanta Writers’ Club. Her blogspot is: I figured she knows a lot more than I do about how to get a buzz going and I thought it couldn’t hurt to join up with an enterprise that’s gone global.

Then I realized I was stuck at the first question (see below). So I put it on the shelf and used the holidays as an excuse not to post for a while. Today, I can procrastinate no longer but in the meantime something great happened that changed my attitude. At the beginning of December, I tossed out a section of my work in progress. I have a deadline of March to finish this thing, self-imposed, but vital to my peace of mind. Tossing out a few thousand words represented a detour, a traffic jam, a sumbitch fender-bender between me and my chosen path to glory. So I’ve spent most of December cranky, charging away at rewrites until just two days ago, I noticed: This thing is going great again and I’m only 1,500 words shy of my goal for December! I can do that, I can surely do that over the next five days with time to spare for Champagne and nibblies on the 31st. So here goes, Soniah!

These are the questions Soniah asked me to answer about my work in progress. After that, I’ve tagged five other authors so you can learn about their Next Big Thing.

What is the title of your new book?
Tough question. Wish I knew. I think it’s going to be called Marching to Zion or maybe Fairer Worlds on High or Let Those Refuse to Sing or A Song of Sweet Accord. Problem is my publisher didn’t like my working titles the first two times around and the novels found fresh ones once the editing process started. They do like the idea of using lyrics from spirituals, so I’ve been searching for one that’ll fit my plot.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I like recycling characters from one book to the next. For an author it’s a way never to say goodbye to characters you’ve grown to love, even if you’ve killed them off. I knew I wanted to spend more time with Aurora Mae from One More River and cover the years she goes missing in that novel. But I started out with her Cousin Mags who has maybe three paragraphs of her very own in that novel and Lord, did she wind up having a lot to say. Then Bailey, Aurora Mae’s fancy man from Memphis, stepped up and that man, well, he’s hard to ignore. Next, I found myself some refugees from a Ukranian pogrom that muscled in on the action. The rest of it’s been pretty much stirrin’ the pot, stirrin’ the pot. You know, the best fiction is character driven and with that lively, curious crew, I think I’ve got the makings of The Next Big Thing for sure.

What genre does your book fall under?
I think of it as Southern historical literary.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Haven’t a clue. Movies are somebody else’s business, not mine. I’ll wait and see who Jim Kohlberg casts for Home in the Morning and see how that works!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A story of love, betrayal, and redemption set against the racial and religious divide of the American South from 1917-1939.

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m represented by the great Peter Riva of International Transactions.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
When I’m done it’ll be about 14 months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Oh, it’s sui generis, I’m certain!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I couldn’t tell you. It’s a compulsion.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It completes the ideas expressed in Home in the Morning and One More River. I think of the three of them as a trilogy, a consummation, even though each one has a narrative arc that’s all its own. It’s whole, it’s a stand alone, but if you’ve read the other two, you’ll say: Ah, so that’s where she’s been going. And sigh with great satisfaction.

Here are authors I’ve tagged to tell you about their Next Big Thing:

Sandi Krawchenko Altner, author of Ravenscraig, 2012 Carol Shields Book Award Winner, named Best Book of 2012 by the Winnipeg Free Press.

Debra Ann Pawlak, author of Bringing Up Oscar: The Story of the Men and Women Who Founded the Academy.

Dennis Fleming, author of the literary true crime memoirs She Had No Enemies and The Girl Who Had No Enemies and the serial memoir The Sex Life of Andy Ashling.

Sande Bortiz Berger, novelist, short story author, essayist, author of The Sweetness and Split-Level. http://www.sandeboritzberger.

Susan Morse, memoirist, humorist, author of The Habit,

Thank you to Soniah Kamal for tagging me!

4 thoughts on “Sometimes A Survey Is More Fun Than You Think

  1. Very interesting, the birth of a trilogy. Compulsive writing is something I’ve come to appreciate in my work. I envy you recycling characters. It must be satisfying and fun. I hope to read all three books.

    • Well, shucks, D. I appreciate that! You missed the big CyberMonday, Kindle Daily and Kindle Monthly sales! I’ll have to give you a heads up when the next round of bargains comes in. Woudl love to have your input.

  2. Hey, I appreciate you thinking of me. I don’t know what the CyberMonday, Kindle Daily, and Kindle Monthly sales are. I’m remiss in checking up on that. I’ll take whatever help I can get.

  3. Hi Mary
    thanks for participating! Don’t know if I know much about self-promoting (which, I’m told these days, if more vital than writing itself:(), but this just seemed like a fun thing to do! So interesting that you don’t know the title of your book– I can’t work until I have a title fixed.

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