Dear readers, I owe you an apology. It is incredible to me that I haven’t update you since May 21, because some rather big things are happening in the life of TC Robinson.
I have changed the first chapter of my novel – again. But in my defense, I think this time it is at its optimum, at least until an editor gets ahold of it. Also in the last week my husband and I explored a part of Idaho we had not been to, at least as adults, and I am preparing queries for #PitMad this weekend. The later is one of the reasons for the first item.
I know at some point I need to leave the manuscript alone, but until a few days ago I just didn’t feel good about the opening. I already had changed it to be more descriptive and narrative. I was very happy with the descriptive elements – something that has never been easy for me to write. I once told my former editor/publisher, Roger O. Porter, that I hated writing feature articles for the newspaper. I always have gravitated to the hard news, no nonsense article writing. He told me I was crazy, that feature writing was where reporters could actually write and I should take advantage of that opportunity when it came.
I took his words to heart and did eventually enjoy writing features more than I had. His advice probably was what gave birth to this novel. I started writing it as a creative outlet and energizer. Like an unused muscle, we get stiff and unbending in what we’re doing if we don’t move out of our comfort zones and loosen up our resistance to new ways of doing things. Writing creatively at home helped to improve my newspaper writing at work. Stephen Covey in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People called it sharpening the saw.
Another influential mentor of the past, my high school journalism teacher Beryl Taylor, pulled her hair out editing the news copy I turned in for our high school newspaper, the Chieftain. During one painful editing session, I remember her numbering my paragraphs and rearranging them. She said I had a good article, I just had it in a mixed-up order.
That’s what was wrong with my first chapter – I had the order wrong and it also was too long. I moved some sections around and divided it into two chapters and -wha – la! – I think it’s gone from Ok to good to hey – this is really good. I hope it is because I’m going to participate in #PitMad this Saturday. It is a Twitter pitch party where writers can pitch their unpublished novels to the world, and hopefully the agents therein. I’ve been struggling with the query because Silent Thunder is not easily categorized. It’s high action espionage, but also an adventure through the Idaho backcountry. It’s about personal relationships and learning to care and love for others, but it’s not really a romance. It has mystery, but it’s not a mystery novel. Like getting my first chapter right, this has me tearing my own hair out.
And then this morning, the words began to flow and I felt I was making some headway in describing Silent Thunder in 280 words or less. I don’t think I can enter queries if I put them in my blog, so please wait until after Saturday to look for them on the Bookshelf.
Meanwhile, this weekend was not jammed packed with to-dos, so after putting in our small garden and creating our hanging flower baskets for the front porch, my husband and I took to the highway and visited Camas National Wildlife Reserve. It is just 35 miles north of us, but neither of us can remember visiting there. The weather was unsettled when we left town about 10 a.m. The sky was an odd shade of blue, nearly the exact match of the distant mountains. Traveling north, the horizon is blocked by the Bitterroot Mountains and to the east, by the tips of the Beaverhead, Lemhi and Lost River ranges. The last three ranges are so close that from a distance, the mountains appear to form a more northwesterly range. All the mountains are pretty far away and have that blue tint below snow capped peaks. It’s hard to tell what is mountain and what is sky, what is snow and what is cloud and them suddenly you recognize this huge mountain in front of you, looming in the moody sky.
A slight drizzle and then the moodiness wore off and we ended up with a nice day to explore the ponds and marshes of the Camas NWR. The spring migrations of swan and geese were long over, but we did spot one pair of swan. We were admiring a pair of Swainson hawks when suddenly they paired. That was a little embarrassing and incredible. These large hawks were at the very tips of branches of a dead cottonwood tree and somehow the branch held and they didn’t fall. On the tour around the ponds we spotted another migratory bird, a Ruddy Duck. It had an electric blue bill and kept slapping its chest, making a loud noise and creating bubbles. We later learned that also is mating behavior.
I hope you all get a chance to get out and enjoy the world about you. In the meantime
Enjoy the read, TC Robinson
- Swainson Hawks 2. Ruddy Duck 3. White-faced Ibises 4. Yellow headed blackbird 5. Great Blue Heron, left, and White-faced Ibis, right