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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Weekly Writing Recap: Momentum


My online dictionary offers two definitions. The first sounds like something my science teacher hubby could recite by heart: the quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity. The second sounds more applicable to creative endeavors such as writing: the impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events.

My momentum has been hampered by the bug I've been battling the past three weeks. The quantity of motion of my body has diminished greatly. Gwynly has convinced me it's time to seek medical attention for my lingering cough, sore chest muscles and fatigue. First thing Monday morning I will call my doctor's office for an appointment.

(Update: I did see the doctor. Diagnosis: Swine Flu. That explains why this bug has been such a pest. She said I should start feeling better in a week or so.)

On the creative front, however, Violets & Violins continues to gain momentum. A course of events has been unfolding unlike anything I could have imagined.

Let me take you back to the year 2007. I had completed five manuscripts in two years, all of them inspirational historicals. I began entering four of them in contests. Between July and November of that year, I prepared and submitted thirty-three entries. I kept one of the copiers at my local Office Max busy and my postal clerks scratching their heads as I explained exactly how each entry must be packaged and posted. I knew no other writers and had not discovered the world of writers in cyberspace, so I craved feedback from contest judges.

To my surprise and delight, I actually finaled in some of the contests. I ended up taking a first, two seconds, two thirds and an honorable mention. I also finaled in the Golden Heart with two of my four entries. (The two that didn't final came in the bottom half, so that humbling reality left me wondering what to think.) I'm no math whiz, but with the help of my trusty calculator I figured out I finaled about once for every four entries.

When I began entering Violets & Violins in contests, I chose carefully. I made sure there was an inspirational category (or sub-category as in The Emily.) I also looked to see who the final judges were, since I hoped to have my entry seen by some of them.

I ended up choosing ten contests to enter and promptly did so. With my history, I thought that way I might end up with two or even three finals. Of course, I'd have the preliminary judges' comments no matter what, which I value greatly.

Imagine my surprise when the first result came back. I was a finalist in The Maggies. Talk about incredulous. That was me. The successes that have followed have been nothing short of staggering. Violets & Violins has taken three firsts. It is pending placement in three more contests, having made the finalist list in The Southern Heat and Finally a Bride this weekend. I've pinched myself so often I'm going numb.

Violets & Violins has momentum. If asked why this story, a revision of one of those I entered in 2007, is doing so well, I have to say I'm not sure. I give much of the credit to my husband, who is my awesome plotting partner. His ideas for re-energizing the beginning of the story were awesome. My faithful critique partner, Anne Barton, has been with me every step of the way, listening to my struggles and successes and offering wonderful suggestions. My other critique partner, CJ Redwine, pointed out some weaknesses I'd been blind to as well.

For my part, I've spent the past two years studying craft and working to improve my writing. I've attended conferences and my local RWA chapter meetings, have visited more blogs for writers than I can count and have read many books in my genre. Plus, painful though it was, I rewrote three-quarters of the book, incorporating the great input of my partners.

As thrilled as I am at the success Violets & Violins is having on the contest circuit, I feel a bit guilty. I know there are many writers who would be encouraged by a contest final, and I've kept some of them from getting a spot. I never expected to garner so many myself, honestly. I like to share the joy of accomplishments. In fact, once the good news began pouring in, I ceased entering contests. I've four entries pending, but I won't be entering Violets & Violins again. I consider this story officially retired from the unpublished contest circuit.

In spite of my lack of physical momentum, I have managed to polish the first twenty chapters of Violets & Violins and am getting wonderful feedback on them from my CPs. I have yet to rework the ending to eliminate a weak plot point several judges pointed out but will do so soon. I'd like to be moving faster, but a body has limits. Once I get mine restored to health, though, watch out.

• • • • •

How do you maintain momentum when you're not at your peak?

Have you ever experienced success that overwhelmed you?

What have been your biggest victories this week?

What challenges are you facing?


Anonymous said...


Since you speak of me so highly and talk about how supportive I am, I guess I should take some time from just visiting MG car sites and comment on yours. I'm very excited for you and have a lot of faith in this book; it is a good story. I appreciate the positive press, but I also know that all of the input from critique partners, judges and friends has been so helpful in making this story a success. Needles to say, I'm very proud of you. Love, Carl (aka: Gwynly)

Keli Gwyn said...

Oh, Gwynly! My first comment from you. Wow! You made my day. Of course, you do that often. Your support and encouragement mean the world to me. Thanks heaps.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Looks like your story is awesome! It sounds like it will go far. I'm happy for you!

Hope you feel better soon!

Edna said...

Great comment and I always like to read your blogs,


Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for the kind words, Kristen and Edna. Hope you've both had a good week.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Keli, thanks so much for sharing all of this. You're so sweet to not want to steal the limelight so much, but clearly you deserve that bright light on you!

When I'm ill, I drag tremedously, so I'm amazed at all you've been doing while under the weather.

Blessings to you, Keli!!! Can't wait to read Violets & Violins in print!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Just read your hubby's comment. How very special!!

Keli Gwyn said...

Eileen, your comment gave me a lift. Thanks. And, yes. I have a great hubby and tell him so often.

Anne Barton said...

Hi Keli! How wonderful to see your other half here. What a great guy--but then, I already knew that!

I had no idea you were still suffering from your cough, but I'm glad to hear you'll be making a visit to the doctor's. Take care of yourself!

As for the success of V&V, the numbers are simply staggering. It's rare to find a story that has such universal appeal as this one.

I know what you mean about it being hard to predict how a story will fare in contests, but don't question it . . . just enjoy! And I agree with Eileen who said to soak up your time in the limelight. You've earned it!

p.s., you forgot to mention that in the midst of not feeling well and trying to deal with revisions, etc. you also did a critique for me. You rock! :)

Jessica said...

I can't believe your hubby stopped by! How sweet. :-)

Dont't feel guilty, the story is winning on its own merits. That's a great thing! :-) Soon, soon...

I hope you feel better and the doctor can fix what's wrong. When I'm sick all momentum stops. LOL I hope yours doesn't though. I'm with Anne: You rock!

Keli Gwyn said...

Anne, congrats on your good news! It's so cool to be a Southern Heat finalist with you. I'm not surprised. You write awesome stories.

Jessie, my guy is super. Isn't it great that we have such supportive hubbies? What a blessing!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Awesome the success you're having with your story! Way to go!

Sometimes you just have to be in "time out" and rest, recuperate and regroup. Praying you won't need that doctor visit because you'll be feeling great by then!

My daily challenges are having two chronic health problems that limit what I can do and the time I can put into writing. I'm trying not to be frustrated by that and to just enjoy the times when I can crank out pages.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Keli,

Sorry you're not feeling well. Hope it's not the H1N1 flu. Our whole house has had some version of cold/flu for over two weeks. I'm still battling mine, too. Feel better!

Congrats on all your finals. Sounds like a great story. Are you entering in the GH this year? I still haven't decided. It will be last minute if I do.

Take care of yourself. Rest and drink lots of fluids & chicken soup.


Jill Kemerer said...

Oh, hope you get better really soon! And I'm thrilled for you with your exciting contest wins! Keep us posted--I have a feeling we'll be hearing you got the call next!

Keli Gwyn said...

Donna, Sue and Jill, thanks for the well wishes. I did see the doctor Monday. The bug I've been battling is none other than the Swine Flu ~ aka H1N1 ~ aka NASTY STUFF. Since I'm three weeks into it, the doctor said antibiotics wouldn't help. Just have to tough it out. She thinks I'll be feeling better by next week. Sure hope so. The cough and fatigue are getting old.

Thanks, too, for celebrating with me. I'm stunned at the success this story has had. I love the characters, and the judges seem to like them too. That sure feels good.

Terri Tiffany said...

I just got my critiques back from the RWA contest that you finaled in:) and was pleased with them and loved the suggestions. I plan to implement them this next week.

So why aren't you submitting it yet?? I bet it is ready.