If you read Parade, that Sunday insert in many papers, you saw an article by Janet Evanovich, who was billed as the number one NASCAR fan. I found it funny, Call me a snob, but I'm not a NASCAR fan. I fail to see the interest in sitting on bleachers in the hot sun, watching cars go around a track. When I was a kid, I thought stock car races once a year, on the Fourth of July, were fun, but that was a long time ago. Much more recently, I used to walk in the early mornings with a neighbor whom I did not know well. When she mentioned going to NASCAR, I blurted out something about thinking only rednecks went to the races. Not tactful, and it came out, I hoped, as joke. She apparently didn't take it so because shortly thereafter she called and said she could no longer walk.
I've also crossed paths with Janet Evanovich. I wouldn't say we've met, but she came to speak to an audience of about a thousand at TCU--would you believe I talked to one group who came to Texas from Kentucky for the evening? I was part of the group charged with making sure the green room met her specifications, which were pretty detailed. Her reputation as a diva preceded her. And then I had the job of barring the door to the women's restroom in that brief interlude between the speech and the signing, so that she might have a moment of privacy to take care of personal needs. An aside: as I stood there, a woman came up to me and said, "I know you." I admit I preened a bit, thinking she knew I was a local author. Instead, she said, "You run the cash register at the Star Restaurant." It was true, but not the major way I wanted to be known. Ms. Evanovich emerged from the restroom, without a word to me, and proceeded to sign hundreds of books, always gracious, willing to pose for photographs, etc. I thought we would be there until midnight. But I couldn't understand the following. I've tried reading her books, but I just don't warm to Stephanie Plum, and I quickly tired of the eccentric grandmother. Maybe all those people are also NASCAR fans!
I've spent a lot of time on my own mystery this weekend and decided there's too much conversataion. A history scholar who was trying to write fiction once said to me, "I wish I could write dialog like you do." Well, it's fine to write realistic dialog, but it can't be the whole book, and I know I need more action. The oldest writing advice in the world is "Show, don't tell." But telling is an inherent problem in first person narratives--you can't have the protagonist on the spot for everthing that happens, so you have to have someone tell her about things.
This really came home to me because I just finished Asking for Murder by Roberta Isleib (she's going to be a guest blogger here early in September). The story is first person, but there's lots of description. So I'm rereading and revising for the--what? tenth time? And I'm not even past chapter eight.
I signed on for a short course on writing blurbs. Each of 19 people submitted a blurb. Then we were asked to pretend we were agents and rate the blurbs: S, for send; C, for not my cuppa; P, for pass. It was really hard, but what discouraged me was that one person rejected my blurb because realtors turned her off, several people rated it either C or P, but only two liked the idea of a involving older women. (They haven't all responded, but I'm losing hope!) Go figure!