Thursday, March 2, 2017

I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends {Novella Lessons + Sneak Peek}

Less than a week to go before the Love at First Laugh collection releases, and it's getting real, y'all. I've learned so much in this process, like:
  • Just because a novella is smaller doesn't mean it's easier to write. 
  • When you've spent seven years marketing books full-time as your job and three getting to market your favorite author friends, it's strange and exciting being on the other end of it and promoting your own books.
  • Getting the first positive feedback from someone who isn't your critique partner or family member is an indescribable experience. (I'm not crying. You're crying!)
  • Things rarely ever go as planned in creative projects.
  • It's okay to put your work out there even if you're afraid it's not perfect. Because it will never be perfect.
  • Only in the writing community -- in the inspirational writing community, to be exact -- are other authors not seen as competition, but as co-workers in the holy responsibility to point readers to Christ. 
Can I make a confession right now? As much as it agonized my reformed-people-pleaser-heart, I almost dropped out of the collection. Twice. I know -- so unlike me! But my first draft was rushed and flat and uninspired due to an unexpected death in the family and The Tomlinson Household Quarantine of 2016. I spent the time designated in my detailed, color-coded plan for professional edits on rewriting the entire thing. I didn't want to publish it because I knew that it wouldn't be absolutely perfect.

And then, suddenly, my rewrite plunged from a long, dark tunnel to daylight. My characters had dimension! Chemistry, even, which is kind of important for a romance! I was chatting with my friend Jessica Patch about a scene in which my characters break down on the side of the road and accidentally stumble upon a high school Revolutionary War dance, of all things. As we went back and forth, she illuminated a sequence of events that would be more dynamic in real-time instead of glossed over in the narrative as I'd done. 

Moral of the story: Things don't always turn out the way you plan in story world, but many times, it ends up better -- especially with a little help from your friends. Trusted members of your writing community can help you see your story in a new light and learn valuable information about your characters. (Like maybe your baseball playing hero was also an academic bowl nerd. *Swoon*) And author-friends remind you that God doesn't need a flawless manuscript to whisper messages through your words. 

Here's a tiny snippet from the scene I mentioned above:


“Are you a history buff yourself?”

Nick grinned. “I wasn’t captain of the Westmoore High quiz bowl for nothing.”

Shirley clasped her hands. “Oh, you should join us if the truck’s going to be a while.” She bent and started digging through a trunk. “There are also some British sea service pistols and Charleville muskets floating around here.”

“Oh, that’s all right.” Nick searched for an excuse. “Really, we wouldn’t want to—”

Shirley held up a ruffled, pink-gray gown as the door opened, and he looked from the dress to Chelsea. From Chelsea to the dress. With the hint of a smile on her face, she looked so relieved. So unsuspecting.  

“You know what?” He stifled a laugh. “On second thought, I think we can stay for a while.” Chelsea in that dress would make the blown water pump worth its weight in gunpowder and chests of Boston Harbor tea.

She reached them, her smile shifting to confusion at Nick’s face and disappearing completely when she saw the dress. “What’s this?”

“How we’re going to pass the next thirty minutes.”

Shirley handed him a white, curly wig.


“C’mon, Scotty.” He pulled the wig on.

“Absolutely not.” 

Two minutes later, the smell of mothballs and baby powder assaulted him from the top of his head, and he could barely move his arms in a blue militia jacket. Yet somehow he suspected Chelsea had it worse based on the thumps coming from behind the wall.

“Were you able to reach my dad?”

Nick turned to face the helpful colonial nurse, who was now bookended by friends with grins full of braces. “Yes. Thank you so much.” He gave her the phone and pulled on the hem of his jacket. “You guys are seriously awesome.”

And to top it all off, they’d let him keep his own pants.

“Would you like us to teach you the Cornwallis Country Dance until your lady comes back?”

Her friend on the left snickered. “Or perhaps the Congress Minuet? That will really impress her.”

The sound of wood cracking on wood saved him from answering.

Wow. Nick swallowed hard as Chelsea appeared in the doorway, her yoga tights and tunic replaced with the ruffled gown, which pulled in tightly at the waist, accentuating every curve. Its champagne color set off her milky skin and coppery hair. Her eyes met his, utterly unimpressed, and he smiled. Suddenly that Congress Minuet didn’t sound so bad.

“Well, look at you.” Nick nudged a petal-pink ruffle on her shoulder. “Scotty in a dress.”

“A tiny dress.” She pulled at it, lips parting at the popping noise that resulted. “I definitely don’t have the body of a fifteen-year-old girl.”

For the love of all that is good in this world, thank you, Jesus.

From That's When I Knew, part of the Love at First Laugh inspirational romance collection. Get all 8 novellas (including fabulous new work from Pepper and Krista) for 99 cents on Kindle for a limited time!


Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author and cheerleader for creatives. She believes that God's love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. 

Previously a full-time book publicist, Laurie now serves as a virtual assistant and runs a freelance editing and PR consulting business called 1624 Communications

She lives with her husband and two small children in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where they are eagerly awaiting the release of her debut contemporary romance novel in May 2017 from Harlequin Heartwarming.

You can connect with Laurie on her website, Facebook page, and Twitter


Teresa Tysinger said...

Thanks for this, Laurie. So thankful you're in my corner as a friend and editor!

Laurie Tomlinson said...

@Teresa - I'm glad you're one of the friends I get by with a little help from <3