Sit with Your Story, Don’t Rush the Process!

Sit with Your Story, Don’t Rush the Process!

Have you ever felt rushed, pushed, or encouraged to publish your book before you felt ready and more importantly before the story was the best it could be? Are you feeling internal or external pressures to put out a book a year, every two years?

If you’re not a writer, you might have a project in the works that you feel unsure about or hesitant that it’s ready for public consumption. If this feels true for you, this might be the blog post for you. Allow me to share my experiences (and humble two cents).

By 2014, I’d been hard at work on my first novel, A Decent Woman, for over five years and had finally found a publisher. I was more than ready to become an author and with that contract came a fair amount of immediate pressure to publish the book in a timely manner. Along with my new publishing team, I decided on what I thought was a feasible and realistic publication date…despite a nagging feeling that my story wasn’t quite ready. Was it true the story wasn’t ready for publication or was I fearful of the unknown? Since I’d never published a book before, I felt my fears were valid. On the other hand, how could this story not be ready after more than five years of writing and research?

The nagging feeling persisted. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly where the issues lay in the story, I knew it in my gut. If only I’d given myself more time, I agonized. Was I being too much of a perfectionist? It was a stressful and confusing experience, and I was faced with the momentum I’d created and didn’t know how to stop—I had a set publication date. I felt I couldn’t back out and didn’t want to let my publishing team down but deep down, I knew moving forward would be a huge mistake for me and for my book.

Then I met Ally, a godsend, who’d joined the team after it hadn’t worked out with my first editor. Ally agreed to work with the original pub date and a few weeks later, we spoke—it was as I’d felt in my gut, the book wasn’t ready. She suggested adding a few chapters for clarity and a new ending as she felt the original ending would let readers down. I agreed with her.

Finally, I had a clear road map to follow. Now I had to inform the publishing team that the original pub date had to be scrubbed, which caused loathing and stress in my mind, body, and soul. But it had to be done. I realized then (and now because these patterns of behavior tend to repeat themselves) that if I’d spoken honestly with my team early on, the stressful situation might have been avoided. But then again, we only know what we know at the time and I hadn’t met Ally yet, right?

Ultimately, I stuck to my guns, knowing I might piss someone off and would mess up the existing publishing schedule. Ally supported me in her brilliant way and I’m forever grateful to her. I learned to speak my truths and protect/honor my writing process and my book. By being honest, I gifted myself a few extra months to edit, to rewrite, and to put out the best possible book. The newly-edited A Decent Woman was finally published in 2015 and went on to win two international Latino book awards, garnering close to 90 positive and lovely book reviews on Amazon. I gained hundreds of new readers, which was amazing. I learned that timing is everything in life, and working with a great editor, who gets you and your story is crucial.

So please, take all the time you need and don’t rush your project or book; it won’t be in vain. I can’t overstate how important it is to honor your writing process; don’t underestimate it. I’m not saying you should analyze the hell out of the story and your characters until you’re paralyzed in fear and afraid to turn in your manuscript. Not at all, though that has happened to me with poetry! I’m talking about giving yourself the necessary time to reread, to think, and if necessary, to rewrite portions of your book. Most importantly, work with a great editor to help you mine or add the gold to your story. Then read your work in progress with new reader’s eyes and do share the story with beta readers before publication.

At this time, I’m at the same place with my second novel, The Laments–sitting with the story and with my characters. I’m further exploring their darker sides and how that could affect their journey and their relationships with the other characters. I no longer rush the creative process. Sadly, Ally doesn’t offer editing services at the moment but happily, I’ve connected with a fantastic editor who I’ve wanted to work with for a long time. There’s not much that tops doing what we love.

In the next few days, I’ll be posting several blogs as I head to Thailand next month with my daughter to visit my son and his girlfriend who’ve made Bangkok their home. We are very excited and ready for a new, exotic adventure!

My next blog post explores where ideas for books and characters come from, which came up during Marsha Casper Cook’s fun and informative Blog Talk Radio podcast that aired in early October. I was honored Marsha asked me back and as always, I loved chatting with her and my good friend and brilliant writer, Jack Remick. So do check back and if you’re interested in listening to the archived podcast, please click this link:

http://bit.ly/2oG6Q3W

Thank you for your visit. Happy writing and reading to you!

Eleanor

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ellie

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, A Decent Woman, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Her best-selling debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now. A Decent Woman was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is proud to be featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.

A writer, artist, and poet, Eleanor is currently working on her second novel, The Laments, set in 1926 Puerto Rico. When Eleanor is not writing, she tends to her garden, travels, reads, and tells herself she will walk El Camino de Santiago a second time. Eleanor is the mother of two amazing adult children and currently lives in her adopted state of West Virginia.

BUY A DECENT WOMAN:

https://amzn.to/2WjgXuC

Tune in! Blogtalk Radio Show – Writing the Best Story You Can

Mark your calendar and join us!

Writing The Best Story You Can- Host Marsha Casper Cook

Marsha Casper Cook

Marsha Casper Cook

Call in to speak with the host – (714) 242-5259

Please join Marsha Casper Cook on Thursday, October 3 at 4EST 3 CST 2MT 1PST when her guests will be Jack Remick and Eleanor Parker Sapia.

Please join Marsha Casper Cook, Michigan Avenue Media, on Wednesday, October 3 at 4 EST 3 CST 2MT 1PST when her guests will be Jack Remick and Eleanor Parker Sapia.

Eleanor is the author of the multi-award-winning historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English, at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English, at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now. A Decent Woman was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015, and Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.

Jack is a celebrated storyteller, a poet, short story writer, and novelist, the author of Gabriela and The Widow–Montaigne Medal Finalist in the Eric Hoffer Award competition. Gabriela and The Widow–BOTYA Finalist. Gabriela and The Widow: Wins “Best Women’s Fiction” Orangeberry Hall of Fame Virtual Expo Satori, Poems, from Coffeetown Press was released on May 1, 2014.

For more info on the shows http://www.michiganavenuemedia.com

https://www.blogtalkradio.com/michiganavenuemedia/2019/10/03/writing-the-best-story-you-can–host-marsha-casper-cook?fbclid=IwAR271G5wpD-gzNQCv00dEJyWoBOjA4iehpUmLcOnzE45oSLKGH3sYD5Sc0U#.XYr2OhpdJY0.facebook

 

 

Back to writing!

Hello, friends of this blog!

I hope you enjoyed your summer with your loved ones! I packed away my WIP and all the research material to set off for visits with family and friends in mid-July. I usually try to take July and August off in search of rest, rejuvenation, and inspiration, and this year was no different. I’ve discovered the harder I work at writing and research throughout the year (and I worked hard!), the better the summer break. This summer was great fun, so I thought it would be easy to get organized and to return to the writing desk–not the case! I found it difficult despite getting to a place in the novel in late June where I felt good despite knowing it was not ready for an editor’s eyes just yet.

So, after unpacking and giving my home a thorough cleaning, I unpacked the manuscript, pulled out the bulging research notebooks, and bought new pens, highlighters, and sticky tabs. I bought a new calendar, moved my writing desk to a quiet corner of my living room and fired up the laptop. I did what I do every September after vacation, I tried to psych myself up to write again by rereading where I left off. I liked what I read. I edited a few pages while reminding myself not to edit too much (I am guilty of this during the writing process) because I believe it’s better to allow the writing to flow without editing. But…the words didn’t come as they usually do.

I just needed more inspiration, I told myself. So, since I hadn’t read a single book over the summer and hadn’t watched many movies, I turned to Amazon and Netflix. I searched for books and films with the topics and themes of The Laments. Of course, I found a book along with films starring Catherine Deneuve and Audrey Tautou–two of my favorite actresses. I ordered the book and unsubscribed from The Rachel Maddow Show blog to keep me focused and on task.

Did I find the perfect inspiration to finish my novel? While I enjoyed the book, I’d broken my writing “rule” to stay away from reading when I’m writing. I know nothing these days is 100% original, but reading other’s words is not helpful for me during the writing process. So, I caught up with The Handmaid’s Tale. I know, I know, but I love that series.

When I finally got fed up and remembered that nothing is promised to us, my dear friend and master writer Jack’s words came to mind, “Quit whining. Write.”

So with this first blog post of September 2019, I’m back to writing.

Happy writing and reading to you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ellie

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, A Decent Woman, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Her best-selling debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now. A Decent Woman was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015, and Eleanor is proud to be featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.

A writer, artist, and poet, Eleanor is currently working on her second novel, The Laments, set in 1926 Puerto Rico. When Eleanor is not writing, she tends to her garden, travels, reads, and tells herself she will walk El Camino de Santiago a second time. Eleanor is the mother of two amazing adult children and currently lives in her adopted state of West Virginia.

 

 

 

 

Summer 2019 Update

Happy Summer to you, dear reader!

Me at the wedding June 2019

June was a special month of much joy and long-awaited reunions with my family. In early June, I enjoyed six fun-filled days with my daughter, my son, and his girlfriend in Capon Bridge, WV after their year in Asia. We kayaked and fished on the Great Cacapon River; cooked together and enjoyed Portuguese wines (courtesy of my son and his girlfriend); laughed and hugged, and made new memories. 🧡

Last week, I spent four fun days in Maryland with a cousin and my sister before her daughter tied the knot, and this past weekend, our family members and friends traveled from MA, OH, GA, MD, and VA to share the joy at my niece’s beautiful wedding ceremony and fun-filled reception at Celebrations at the Bay in Pasadena, Maryland with breathtaking views of the Bay at sunset. It was magical. My Polish/Russian and Puerto Rican clans sure can party and party, we did!

Last night, my son and his girlfriend flew back to Asia. Of course, as a mom, I have mixed emotions about that, but they are happy, so I am happy for them. My daughter is thinking about new adventures herself, especially about joining me in visiting my son and his lovely girlfriend in Thailand this fall. We are excited to see them again!

So life goes on, and I do what I always do—take off enough time during the summer months to enjoy life and my loved ones. And to make sure my second book, The Laments, (published next year) is the best novel possible, I will be working with someone special, with whom I’ve wanted to work with for a few years now. More details about that later!

Enjoy your summer and your families, my friends, and keep calling your state representatives—No more family separations at the border! Reunite the families!

Note to self: Learn how to apply lashes before the wedding day 🙂

Be well and be happy.

Eleanor x

ON WRITING: CULTURAL HERITAGE AND DIVERSE AUTHORS

ON WRITING: CULTURAL HERITAGE AND DIVERSE AUTHORS

by Eleanor Parker Sapia

Tell me where you were born, where you’ve lived and about your travels, and most probably, I’ll intuit a bit about you. Of course, I don’t know specific details about your life, your favorite color or song, or everything about your culture, but I’ll feel a kinship with you.

Now if you tell me you are bi-cultural, a third culture kid like me or you love to travel, and you’re a writer, from my experience there will be a whole lot of nodding and smiling between us after we meet. And I’ll have a million questions for you; it’s natural to gravitate towards people with similar life experiences and sensitivities.

“Third culture kids are people raised in a culture other than their parents’ or the culture of the country named on their passport for a significant part of their early development years. They are often exposed to a greater variety of cultural influences.” Wikipedia

cropped-cropped-el-morro11.jpg

Luckily for me, I’m still curious and love learning about different cultures, languages, and traditions. I’m a bona fide sponge (I’m learning Latin phases for my second book and my second tattoo). I adore ancient history and research (vital for a writer of historical fiction); I love meeting new people; and I still travel, which is a huge blessing. My children live in the Washington, DC area and in Thailand (where I hope to visit for the first time this fall), and I have many good friends around the world I’d love to visit with again. Among many things that can enrich a writer’s writing “kit”, travel and experiencing life abroad, whether in person or through books, are right up there in my humble opinion.

As an Army brat, a bi-cultural and bilingual (Spanish) kid, my childhood was spent in the United States, Puerto Rico (my love, my birthplace), and in many capitals of Europe. My father is of Polish and Russian ancestry and my mother, born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico, was of French, Catalonian, Canarian, and Italian ancestry. I married an Army officer and enjoyed posts in the US and in Europe with many summer vacations spent in Puerto Rico with our children, and after enjoying 13 years living in Belgium and France, I returned to the US in 2006 with my children. I continued to travel throughout Europe and returned to Puerto Rico to visit friends and family each summer. In 2010, I made a solitary move to Berkeley County, West Virginia (nearly a foreign country to me at first and I’ve been happy here), where I’d hoped to write full-time. I am happy to report I’m still writing full-time in 2019, which is not without sacrifices and many challenges, believe me. I make it work because I can’t imagine not living a creative life.

At times, I think I’ve lived the life of five or six people. But, oh the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met through travel, reading, and writing!

If you were to ask me about my favorite authors and books, I would say I love reading novels primarily written by diverse authors with diverse characters in their homeland settings, and authors whose novels are flavored by their experiences of having lived in or of traveling abroad. Makes sense, doesn’t it? To me, the language is rich, lyrical, familiar, and there’s nothing like being an armchair traveler while I save up for that next trip.

Happy Spring to you!

Eleanor x

Book Release Day!

It’s Book Release Day for A DECENT WOMAN!

Available Now on Amazon in ebook and paperback.

https://amzn.to/2TMjop9

_Deep with delicious detail, scrumptious characters, and full of folklore, this is a unique debut novel._ - Jack Remick, writer (1)

Pre-order A Decent Woman!

A Decent Woman Flat (1)

Dear Friends and Readers,

I have some long-awaited and exciting book news to share – the Kindle edition of my newly-edited novel, A DECENT WOMAN, is available for pre-order today! The Amazon release day for both the Kindle edition and the paperback with the new cover is March 20, 2019!

In the past, you might have seen two other covers of this book on Amazon, and that’s because this is the third printing. Yes, it happens in the book world. I imagine this is what it feels like to send a child off into the world, only to have them return home…twice before. Smile. #shepersisted

https://amzn.to/2F84n8a

So technically, I’m not a debut author, but it sure feels like it with this newly-edited book. The story has not changed, by the way, and in my humble opinion, it’s a better read. What a treat, what a gift, and what a journey. #shepersevered

A big thank you to Jessica Kristie and Winter Goose Publishing for putting my first novel back in reader’s hands, where it belongs. A special thank you to my sister, an ace proofreader, whom I owe dinner and drinks in Puerto Rico when we travel back to nuestra isla querida this summer.

From January 2019 to a few days ago, I read the manuscript, from page one to the end, eight times. I read, edited, and rewrote until my weary eyes went blurry and added a surprise wedding suggested by a lovely reviewer, thank you!

I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for this long winter that has kept me focused and out of the flower and vegetable gardens.

A Decent Woman Flat (1)

I’m grateful to my family, friends, and to readers, who embraced Ana, her lifelong friend Serafina, and the cast of characters of A Decent Woman, which garnered two literary awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. I couldn’t be happier that local and national book clubs chose the book and that readers continue to share their love of Ana’s story with their family and friends, and with me.

Now I buckle down to finish my second novel, The Laments, set in 1927 Old San Juan and Isla de Cabras, Puerto Rico. The characters, Sister Inmaculada, Fray Ignacio, Doctor White, and the tiny community at the leprosarium on Isla de Cabras are more than ready to be presented to readers. I hope to finish the book later this year.

For those who’ve kindly asked, there is a sequel to A Decent Woman; it’s called Mistress of Coffee. The story continues in the mountains of Jayuya and in Ponce, Puerto Rico and will include events that led to the Ponce Massacre, which occurred on Palm Sunday, 1937. I am ten chapters in. #neverbored

Muchísimas gracias for your continued support and friendship!

Eleanor Parker Sapia

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ellie

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Her best-selling debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English, at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English, at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now. A Decent Woman was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015, and Eleanor is proud to be featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.

A writer, artist, and poet, Eleanor is currently working on her second novel, The Laments, set in 1926 Puerto Rico.

When Eleanor is not writing, she tends her garden, travels, reads, and tells herself she will walk El Camino de Santiago a second time. Eleanor is the mother of two amazing, adult children and she lives in her adopted state of West Virginia.