Yes, this one is a shameless plug, but it’s not for me. It’s for my daughter, ’cause I think she deserves it. I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about me, and lately I’ve really centered on my novel—maybe novels, it’s getting so long (164,00+ and counting)—and what I’m encountering as I write it. I have to say it’s still something of a singular experience for me. To pump out that many words in roughly five months still kind of amazes me. I keep wanting to pinch myself and see if it’s real.
But one reader has told me that it was good to read my post that included seven things about me you didn’t know because it branched out into something besides writing. I don’t know that this post will qualify as being outside of writing, but we’ll see. Guess it depends on what you consider to be “outside” of writing. You be the judge.
I don’t know if any of you have followed any of the links I have on my main page or not, but one of them leads to my daughter’s blog, and I’d like to get you to go over there because she’s a good writer. I’ve had her writing move me in ways I never expected, and that says a lot to me. I’ll be fair and warn you that she doesn’t write the same kind of stuff I do. She explains it better than I do, so I won’t go into all the details, but don’t head over there expecting crime or speculative fiction of any kind.
However, when you get over there, you’ll be treated to samples of her writing that I hope you find interesting. She posts stuff like the prompts her writing groups does. They do five-minute writing exercises during group meetings and also send a list of words home with all the members to include in a story for the next meeting. Entirely different method than we use in my group, but interesting nonetheless. I’m fortunate enough to be in a group that has at least three published writers.
Jesi has a nice, informal writing voice that’s more like she’s talking to you than writing. It’s hard to do that (I’ve changed my own writing voice radically since dipping into crime. Maybe I’ll talk more about that on another post) in this game. Like a friend of mine said recently, writers have to be more formal in our writing than people are in everyday life because we have to tell the reader all relevant details. It’s not a formality of voice, but of method. If we don’t tell you about Colonel Mustard killing Mr. Body in the Dining Room with the Lead Pipe at the end of the book, you’ll never know. And if we don’t give you the clues ahead of time to see that’s true, you’ll feel cheated.
Having said that, for me, Jesi’s voice—not her method, but her voice—bridges the gap between telling a story and writing a story. That’s not a bad thing. Her style isn’t stuffy by any means. We’re not talking Henry Wadsworth Longfellow here, or Herman Melville. We’re talking Jesi Marie, who grew up in Santa Monica, is part of what I think of as the Digital Generation, and has a wry way of looking at the world. She’s serious about her writing, loves doing it and has since kindergarten. Heck, I had to be in my teens before I realized I wanted to be a writer, and she’s doing it before she can even write. Coolness.
She’s smart, too. I rely on her input to my own writing. Not in crime novels per se, but in plot ideas. We had a writer’s conference here this past weekend, and Dusty Richards, Western novelist, pointed out that, no matter what kind of fiction we write, the basic methods are the same. Our characters just wear different costumes. So even though Jesi doesn’t write crime, and doesn’t even like science fiction, I can still bounce ideas off her and get good feedback. She’s good at giving me an alternate point of view.
Let me give you an example. I’m developing an idea for a novel I’m tentatively calling Spree (let’s hear it for simple, unimaginative titles). It’s about a couple of guys who are going across the country, starting in LA, robbing grocery and convenience stores. The idea is that one of them, who is originally from New Jersey, has gotten a call from a family member telling him that his brother has a tumor. It’s operable, but for reasons I haven’t decided on yet, they can’t pay for it. So this guy gets the idea of robbing these places, laundering the money and using it to pay for the operation. My question to Jesi was: should I tell the reader why they’re doing this right up front? Or should I hint there’s a reason and only reveal it at the end? Or, not reveal it till the end? These were the three possibilities I’d come up with.
Jesi said, “Why not tell the reader the reason up front, but when they get to the East Coast they find out that one of them has lied to the other. All he really wanted was the money, and he lied to his buddy to get him to help steal it. He really wants to go to the Bahamas.”
Devious, isn’t she? Maybe she should write crime fiction.
I will say that the idea has been refined a little farther than that by now, but since I’m still in the planning stages, I’m not giving any more of it away. Not to you, anyway, heh-heh. But you can see why I turned to her for feedback. I ain’t makin’ these claims up just ’cause I’m her dad. Writing is far too important to both of us for me to be dishonest in any way about it. I give her only the praise I feel she deserves. It’s just too darn mean to give hopes where they shouldn’t be.
What’s made me even more proud of her is that, recently, she began a program to obtain a bachelor’s degree. She’s majoring in professional writing and minoring in creative writing. Go Jesi. Is that serious, or what? I’m not even sure how to go on from here, to tell you the truth. It’s so awesome that she’s doing this that I’m not sure how to talk about it. Or write about it. Some author I am, huh?
I cheer her on every day. It’s an online degree, and I’ve had some experience with that (I had a disagreement with the school I was attending that made it impossible for me to continue with them). It takes a lot of self-discipline to make yourself sit down and do the work when you don’t have to look an instructor or your fellow students in the face, and it’s all too easy to find an excuse not to. I had to give myself several pep talks when I was going. It got old. So I want her to know I’m proud of her, and I understand what it’s like and I’m behind her 110% (that’s just the measurable part).
So head on over there, check out her writing. And keep in mind that a lot of what she posts there is pretty much first draft stuff. It’s at jesimarie.blogspot.com. I can’t promise you’ll like her subject material anymore than I can promise you’ll like anybody else’s, but I think you’ll see that she’s an excellent writer, no matter the genre.
And that’s my shameless plug. We now return you to regularly scheduled programming.