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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Been There, Done That...

How many of us vow that we've learned from our mistakes and will never make that particular one again? I've said it countless times, yet when all is said and done, when I look back the mistake I repeat most often is the one connected to self-doubt. So am I repeating a mistake or am I connecting to an old pattern that I can't seem to shake?

I can't tell you how many times I've happily written a story and then gone back to revise and found more problems than were really there. I know this because at some point I will revise a story to the point that my voice is lost. I might as well be reciting the events and trying to connect the dots in a clinical manner that ruins the story rather than tell the most interesting story possible.

Self-doubt has led to more stories being shoved into a storage container or languishing on a USB than I care to admit. It is the number one killer of stories as far as I'm concerned but one I suspect plagues more than just me.

I am getting better at recognizing when I'm tempted to revise more than necessary because I recognize the pattern that starts with the thought that the story just plain isn't good enough. If I don't want to waste time, I stop there and if all else fails, put the story away for a week so I'm not tempted to wreck it. Funny how when I go back to it, it seems a whole lot better than when I stopped working on it.

These days, I'm better at recognizing when I reach that point. I usually go back to an earlier version that I've saved and try to recapture the excitement and fervor that I felt when the original idea presented itself.

One story that I'm glad I decided not to tinker with was I'll Be Seeing You, an early 20th century historical romance with a paranormal twist that's included in the new Romance Books '4' Us, Entice Me anthology. Many thanks to Rose Anderson for the wonderful promo cover!

Blurb for I’ll Be Seeing You by Paris Brandon
20th Century historical romance with a paranormal twist…

Jack Howland, part of an elite group of OSS special agents can’t resist the pull of the moon or widowed USO hostess, Lulu Lane. After the war, while chasing a Nazi war criminal, their paths cross again. Will the truth about what Jack is send Lulu screaming into the night or back into his arms?

Heat Rating: 2 chili peppers


I’ll Be Seeing You by Paris Brandon (PG)

May 1944
USO Club, Los Angeles, California

There were girls in soft summer dresses, all pink and flowery, smiling and perfumed. None of them would have turned down the handsome lieutenant. Why ask her?
She placed a hand on his solid chest. “Did somebody put you up to this? Did you lose a bet or something?”
He loosened his grip and took a deep breath right before he slid her left hand to his shoulder. When his fingers brushed over the third finger of her right hand, and detected the evidence she was a widow, he uttered a harsh, whispered word that might have been a vehement curse in another language.
“Or something,” he said very clearly, his breath warm against her ear. “Have you ever felt like you’ve lost your mind?”
“Daily. What’s that got to do with you asking me to dance?”
“What’s your name?”
“Lulu Lane. What comes after Lieutenant?” she asked, trying not to get lost in the sensation of being moved around the floor by a handsome man while people stared.
“Jack. Jack Howland,” he snapped, but then he snugged her tighter to his chest and his hand drifted over her back as if he were soothing a wound.
“Asking me to dance doesn’t seem to be making you very happy. Why did you?”
He looked as if he were losing an argument only he knew about.
“I leave in two days. I shouldn’t have spoken to you, let alone asked you to dance, because no matter what I say, it’s not going to come out right.”
“It’s not going to come out at all if you keep talking in riddles.”
He looked surprised for a moment and she was gratified that she could at least break through his maddening, mysterious behavior. “I’ve got forty-eight hours left on a three-day pass and I want to spend it with you. Clear enough for you?”
It took a few moments for what he’d said to sink in, and even then she had trouble believing him. This had to be some kind of a joke.
“You’re smart, Howland; I’ll give you that. You picked out the only wallflower in the bunch—”
“I don’t want to scare you, Lulu, but you don’t fool me. I’m glad nobody else has sense enough to see past the glasses and sensible shoes. You’re an open book for the lucky somebody willing to peel back the cover.
“I’m not looking for romance. I’m looking for forty-eight hours with someone who looked back at me the same way I was looking at them.”

Happy Reading!
Paris Brandon
Entice Me: Available from Amazon:


Rose Anderson said...

The urge to tweak is a curse. lol No other explanation for it.

I loved your I'll be Seeing You story in Entice Me. :)

Melissa Keir said...

I love the song. "I'll be Seeing You". Each time I read the title of your book it comes across as a song. That was one of my favorite era's in history and I wish I could go back to then just once!

I'm horrible at self doubt. I often get the paralyzing fear that the work is so bad that I just don't want to write at all. My stories are started with excitement and then languish on the shelf. I do come back to them because of deadlines (either self imposed or given to me) but I've been known to write a completely different story just to avoid the one I have to finish!

Cara Marsi said...

I loved I'll Be Seeing You. You did a great job on the story with an unexpected twist. I also love the song of the same name. I suffer from self-doubt too. I'm learning to listen to my inner voice that tells me when a story isn't working or is working. I used to make changes based on what my critique partners suggested rather than write the story I wanted. I no longer do that.

Tina Donahue said...

I've been in the same situation, Paris. I always find something I think could be made better when the readers wouldn't notice it. I dated a musician once (classical). I was listening to a pop song - can't recall which one, but I really liked it - and he went on and on about what was wrong with the tune musically. It had sold like a gazillion copies. I didn't notice the mistakes because I'm not a musician. Clearly, countless others hadn't either. I often think of that when I'm tempted to revise too much. Perfect prose isn't necessary. A writer's heart and soul in the work is.

Marianne Stephens said...

Oh...the curse of revisions! You can revise over and over again...and never finish! As authors, we do this self doubting with everything we write. At some point, you have to say that you're happy with your story and send it for edits. Yes, been there!

Paris said...

Thanks to everyone for the inspiring comments. You guys are the best!

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