Getting Over the Hump – Welcome Toni Kelner

Please welcome my friend Toni Kelner. We’ve shared some fun at writer’s conferences and working together on a murder mystery and we’ve also had the joy of sitting together at a book signing (with 5 other writers) when two customers showed up.  Writing is filled with highs and lows and Toni is here to give us some insight into hers.

Sometimes Writing Sucks

by Toni L.P. Kelner

I’ll be honest. Today it sucks to be a writer.

I’m in the middle of a new novel, which is the first in a new series, and I’m not feeling happy with it. I’m not at all sure that I have a handle on the protagonist, my premise is kind of strange and the plot is creaky as all get out. I’m so far behind where I want to be that it’s not even funny.

There’s really only one reason I don’t call my editor and confess my ineptitude and lack of professionalism before making arrangements to return the advance and slink away into the sunset.

Here it is:

Yesterday didn’t suck.

That’s when Ace books released An Apple for the Creature, the latest in a series of anthologies co-edited by NYT bestseller Charlaine Harris and myself. I’m really proud of this book.

Charlaine and I invited eleven other writers to come up with their takes on supernatural denizens and schools, and were just delighted with what they came up with. We’ve got Charlaine visiting kindergarten while Rhys Bowen reminds us of the horrors of high school. Steve Hockensmith introduces an unusual college professor and Donald Harstad teaches a special class for law enforcement. My own story is adult ed, of a sort–an educational conference for werewolves. That’s just the start, and we love them all.

The cover is gorgeous, and we’re getting display space at the front of my local bookstore, and people have been sending kind words about it, and I put the finished book on my ego shelf to look at and smile proudly.

It was an wonderful day to be a writer.

That’s what’s getting me through today. I keep reminding myself that I’ve written books before–a bunch of them, in fact–and while I’m hardly objective, some of them have been pretty good. So it’s reasonable to assume that I can do it again if I don’t give up.

The fact is, there were some sucky days while working on An Apple for the Creature. Some emails got lost which slowed down the process, there was some disagreement over edits, the first cover design was really nice but didn’t quite work for the theme, and one of the contributors was so late I was starting to think she’d never finish the story.

It may not be professional for an anthology editor, but I’m going to name names. The slow-as-molasses contributor was:

Toni L.P. Kelner

Yup. Me. I just went back to my notes for “Pirate Dave and the Captain’s Ghost,” which is my contribution. At various points, I was sure that every character in the story was a cliche, the “jokes” weren’t a bit funny, there was no emotional growth for the main character, and the plot was full of holes.

That sounds kind of like today, doesn’t it? Yet, I did finish the story and was happy with the result. When I was reading galleys, I even smiled at my own jokes.

So right now I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, if I can get through this particular plot problem and get a better feel for my protagonist, I’ll finish up with a manuscript that I can be proud of. And maybe about this time next year, I’ll have a great cover, enthusiastic readers and booksellers, and a new book for my ego shelf.

Come to think of it, that makes two reasons I keep going on those days when it sucks to be a writer. I keep remembering the wonderful yesterdays, and looking forward to the awesome tomorrows!




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