I’ve never met Holly Jacobs in person, but I see her on Facebook nearly every day. I’m totally in awe of her writing chops – her books have sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide. If you search her name on Amazon, you’ll find EIGHT PAGES of titles (some are foreign language editions).
I’ve always enjoyed Holly’s writing but it seems to me she’s reached a whole new level with her recent book, JUST ONE THING. It landed firmly on my keeper shelf, and I plan on getting more copies for my friends. Please give Holly a warm welcome back to RU – she last visited when we celebrated category romance.
Years ago, I went to a conference and met a new writer who was making her first editor pitch. She had written herself notes on index cards because she was so nervous and didn’t want to go blank mid-meeting. She was practically in tears when I met her, not because of those nerves, but because she’d just come from a workshop on pitching where the speaker had assured the participants that using crib-notes is NEVER done and that the editors will ALWAYS dismiss the idea out of hand.
I told her what I’m going to tell you…if you attend a workshop where the speaker tosses around the words ALWAYS and NEVER as if she’s tossing a volleyball around on a beach…leave.
There’s no such thing as ALWAYS and NEVER in writing. There’s no such thing as an absolute in writing.
Now, in real life, you might make a case for the words. I mean, burying the body in the backyard is really never called for. J But in writing, burying a body in the backyard can be perfectly acceptable…especially if you’re a mystery writer.
So let’s talk about why I’m antiALWAYS and antiNEVER.
I think every writer has heard some of the ‘rules’ of writing. I write romance and one of the big rules I’ve heard over and over again is, never write a sports hero. Now as a rather antisporty person, I’ll confess, you’d think I’d have a bias against sports heroes. But I am an absolute sucker for a good sports movie. Rudy, anyone? Or The Blind Side? Still, I wasn’t sure how I felt about sports heroes…then I read Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I was sold. She didn’t just break that ‘rule’ she shattered it. She tells unique stories with unique characters…who feel very real. Her characters are people you could imagine as friends—whether you enjoy sports or not.
Still, I don’t know that being different for difference sake is a good idea, but I do think that honoring your story is. Just because something’s different doesn’t mean that readers won’t connect. I wrote a book that was just for me. It wasn’t exactly a romance. It wasn’t exactly women’s fiction. It wasn’t an inspirational, though I mentioned God. And the characters weren’t alcoholics, but most of the book was set in a bar. It was a short book and it had flashbacks. Editors tend to get itchy about books they can’t pigeonhole. But I wrote the book exactly the way I wanted in between other contracts. And I was fortunate enough to find an editor who fell in love with it as well, despite the fact it didn’t fit in a specific niche. And that book, Just One Thing, became one of my bestselling books ever.
I guess that’s what I’m saying. Don’t be different for difference sake, but honor your story. If it needs a sports hero, or a bar. If you have flashbacks. If it’s too short or too long. Tell the story.
When asked for advice for a new writer, I say, write something, anything, every day. Even if it’s crap. You can fix crap but you can’t fix an empty page…other than by writing! But I don’t use the words ALWAYS or NEVER because some people can’t write that every-day way. I still think it’s sound advice, but it’s not an absolute.
Some people are never going to be daily writers. Some are never going to be prolific. And that’s okay. Just as you have to find what works for you in your story, you also need to find what works for you as a writer.
I am a morning person. I get up, walk early and then I write. I love writing mornings. I love finishing my must-do work and having time to do other things, or time to do more writing if I’m inclined. I love it. It works for me. But I have friends who avoid mornings like the plague. They’re best writing time is evenings. Or weekends. Or on that summer retreat once a year.
I guess what I’m saying is, find what works for you. Honor it. Own it. Keep doing it. And if it stops working for you, try something else.
Writers always write.
Well, darn. So that’s an absolute. Writers ALWAYS write. Yep, I definitely broke my own rule. So maybe I lied and this whole blog was wrong.
Nope, maybe not. I mean, I think I made the point that you never say never when it comes to writing…so maybe it’s okay that I’ve got one absolute.
So let’s recap:
Honor your story.
Find what works for you and do it.
If it no longer works for you, do something else.
Yes, I think that about sums it up.
I try to start every workshop I give by saying, “Take what works for you and run with it. Ignore the rest.” I’m saying that now at the end of this blog. I hope you found something that made sense to you and to your writing.
So what’s one ALWAYS or NEVER that you’ve been told or heard. Did you listen to the advice, or ignore it?
On Wednesday, stop in to meet P.J. Schnyder, aka author Piper J. Drake.
Holly Jacobs is a bestselling, award-winning author who writes for Montlake Romance and Harlequin SuperRomance. Her 2014 releases were Just One Thing and Christmas in Cupid Falls. She’s also indie published her first comedic mystery series, Maid in LA Mysteries.
You can visit Holly at:
Kennedy Anderson loves Cupid Falls, Pennsylvania. Ever since moving there as an orphaned teenager, she’s worked hard to carve out a place for herself in the tight-knit community. Now she’s mayor and owner of the town’s flower shop. But she also has a big secret…and nine months to figure out how to break the news to the father.
Lawyer Malcolm Carter has always been the golden boy of Cupid Falls—until he discovers the one night he spent with the girl-next-door turned out to have a lifetime of consequences. Now, the mother of his child wants nothing to do with him, and he’s gone from someone who is admired to persona non grata as the town rallies behind its mayor.
Malcom has always known what he wants. But now as Christmas approaches, he’ll have to discover a way to show Kennedy that she could find the only thing she’s ever really wanted—a true home—with him. Convincing her will take the help of Cupid Falls’ quirky residents…and a bit of holiday magic.
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