The title of this post is a question I invariably receive after telling someone I'm working on a novel. My general answer is somewhat vague, since I want to keep the details for the day when everyone will be able to read the published work - which I hope will be soon! Lately, though, I've been getting this question from my faithful blog readers, so I want to address it in a more pointed way.
Before I answer the question, I'd like to explain the birth of this novel, and the strange and lengthy journey it has taken up until now. The idea came to me 25 years ago - yes, you read right - while on a getaway weekend to St. Augustine, Florida. My husband and I were staying in our favorite bed and breakfast there (if you've never gone there, make it a point - great history, great shopping and great places to stay; but I digress!). The protagonist character of the book, Samantha, began to form in my mind as I thought about a possible plot involving a woman who runs a B&B, a tragedy that brings her daughter (Samantha) from her acting profession in New York to St. Augustine to help her with the Inn, and all that happens as a result. I knew I wanted it to be a character-driven novel and I began a couple of chapters on a legal pad in longhand. After that weekend, I returned to my very busy job at Walt Disney World, my home, my family, and all my other responsibilities and - you guessed it - the book remained an idea in my head.
Over the years, and through several moves, I toyed with the book but never devoted the time necessary to finish it. At one point, when my husband and some other collaborators were working on some screenplays, it was suggested that I change the story to a screenplay format. I actually did complete it that way, but was never happy with it because it condensed all the characters, and, as a result, came out flat for me.
Finally, in the early years of the current century, I completed a draft of the book. I had a couple of people read it, and got some positive response, but they pointed out flaws as well - flaws I already suspected and they confirmed. I put the book aside because I was busy ghostwriting an autobiography, and writing articles for regional publications, and just didn't feel I could give it the attention it deserved.
Then, five years ago, we moved to Chicago. That monumental change in our lives - all to the good - saw my writing career come to a screeching halt for awhile. I was simply too busy helping my husband with his career, helping our daughter and her family settle in (they had moved here at the same time), establish a new base for all our activities and home-centered tasks, and I wanted to get acquainted with this wonderful City again.
That was a long-winded way of getting the point, but I wanted to lay it out because, during all those years, the book kept growing in my head, even when I wasn't putting words to paper. The characters grew, the story took on more shape and depth, and I believed in it so strongly that I knew it had to be completed. I revised the first draft, then did another, but still felt something was missing. My "awakening" came when I joined my writer's group last year, and they began helping me to improve what I had already written. Through that process, I have continued to find ways to make the characters come more alive on the page, and, at last, I know I possess the ability to produce the book I've always envisioned.
So, what is it about? As I've said, it's a character-driven novel (for those who are not writer savvy, that means the plot is developed from actions driven by the character's personalities). That generally places it in the category of women's fiction - even though I believe some men would find it an enjoyable read. It is titled, "Ribbons Of Love" and the title refers to all the various kinds of love that impact one's life: family ties, friends, romance, etc. - each type encountered by Samantha, the main character, influences her conflicts and the direction her life takes. The setting of the book begins in New York City before she moves to a small town in Virginia, and also includes time she spends in England. The story focuses on her, but other major characters are essential to the plot; her best friend, her mother, her new boyfriend, friends she acquires in Virginia, and some she meets in England. The forces that drive her are her acting, her love of writing, and the memories of her earlier marriage - all of these figure into her new life and the good and bad that happen there.
Without giving you the actual plot details, I hope I've created interest in reading the finished product. My hope is to have it going out to agents by the Fall (yes, of this year!). Then, we just keep trying, and play the wait-and-see game. Wish me luck - and let me know what you think.