Tuesday, June 12, 2007
1000 in a Week
Recently one of my critique group members, Michele Holmes, had her first book come out. She was told by her editor that it would be really good if she could sell 1,000 copies in the first week.
If that's not intimidating, I don't know what is.
Well, the week is almost up, so if you're looking for a unique, well-written romance, pick up a copy of Counting Stars. And I'm not just saying that because Michele is my friend or that she's in my critique group or that she might read this on www.writersinheels.com
I'm saying it because I've read Counting Stars in three different forms. The national form, the LDS form and the final book form. Michele is a fastidious writer. She's the kind of person who pictures entire scenes in her head while she's doing dishes. She plots out books while she's driving carpool and knows exactly what characters are going to say and do. This is mind-boggling to me. When I picked up her book last Saturday and leafed through it, one thought struck me: This is a work of art.
I know what she's been through from the beginning to the end--how she had to petition an entire committee to rethink their approach to LDS fiction--and all the while going through several personal trials--even to the point of walking away from it all . . . I really admire Michele for her perseverance.
If you aren't familiar with the differences between LDS fiction and what I refer to as national romance, just think of inspirational fiction. LDS fiction contains characters who have religious beliefs and values (happens to be LDS in this case). So prayers may be said and God may be thanked. There are also taboo topics that aren't brought up in LDS fiction. Counting Stars gently breaks some of these molds.
But I believe a character who has any depth has some sort of religious faith. So whether you are Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, you'll relate to the characters in Michele's book as they nourish family relationships, struggle through the heartbreaking diagnosis of cancer, and serve in the military.
Another interesting aspect to Michele's book is the layering of characters. You might think the story is just about Jane Warner. But in reality we get to know some of the sub-characters, like her friend Tara, her ex-boyfriend Jay, and her sister Caroline. In subsequent books, the author will tell the stories about these individuals.
A recent review of Counting Stars was posted by Tristi Pinkston. It does a great job of summing up an even "more" great book: