The latest news is that the release date for With Good Behavior will likely be late July 13th, 2010. Yeah! Jeffery Hoyle, the Omnific marketing associate who has been guiding me through this winding road of publication, is hard at work creating the website jenniferlanebooks.com. The manuscript is now in the hands of my Omnific managing editor, Cindy Campbell. (We’re working on streamlining the flashbacks so that only one point of view is represented, as well as fact-checking to increase accuracy). Omnific is also looking over the sequel, currently titled Couples Counseling, for possible publication. And I’m charged with getting my photo taken professionally (insert fake cheer) for the book jacket. It’s quickly coming together!
I recently returned from Chicago, the setting for With Good Behavior and the scene of my sister Susan’s wedding shower. The shower was a lot of fun but it was rather eerie to find life imitating art (if I may so boldly attempt to call my novel “art”). My oldest sister Laurie found a fun cocktail to serve, called “Fly by Night”. (First dip the champagne flute rim in simple syrup then in sugared orange zest, then add half an ounce of Crème de Violet, one ounce of St. Germaine, and finally champagne.) Since one of Susan’s wedding colors is a dark rose/rhubarb color, I decided to add a splash of pomegranate juice to the mix, making the cocktail a beautiful burgundy color. Somehow I got assigned the job of making these intricate cocktails for our sixteen guests, managing to spill the sticky liquid all over the counter and myself, and it became clear to me that I had suddenly turned into my lead character Sophie Taylor! Psychologist turned bartender.
Susan’s wedding reception will take place on a cruise of the Chicago River. It turns out that the ship they’ve rented is an architectural cruise ship by day and a party ship by night. I found this eerie since my other lead character, Grant Madsen, secures a job on an architectural cruise ship early in the novel. At the shower, we were looking out the window at the Chicago River and happened to see the ship she’s renting running an architectural cruise right outside. Party guests were asking each other if they’ve taken an architectural cruise before (most hadn’t) and one joked that she should make sure the captain hadn’t been drinking before the cruise starts, again reminding me of a scene from the novel. I’d had no idea that both Sophie and Grant would be attending the shower with me!
My Aunt Nancy read through With Good Behavior in the summer of 2009, and was very encouraging about the story’s potential. She advised me to choose unique, poetic words as a writer. Instead of “he stuck by her side like white on rice”, I’m now trying to write phrases like “he stuck by her side like sauce on spaghetti”. I hadn’t noticed that I chose tired, overused descriptions at times, and I’m striving to be more careful in my word choice since receiving that feedback. It’s wonderful to receive constructive criticism.
Nancy told me “In the way you wrote it, the connection among the brothers and Sophie is revealed early on but with that revelation comes the dread that the vulnerable couple is going to get further tangled with the members of his toxic family. And the dread is visceral.” Yeah! Just what I wanted my readers to feel…visceral dread! I want some serious fingernail-chewing happening. (And perhaps some hopeful anticipation about the budding romance between Grant and Sophie as well).
How cool is it to have my story professionally edited? EXTREMELY cool! Working closely with Omnific’s Jessica Royer Ocken has been a sheer pleasure. Because With Good Behavior started as a rather long story, I asked Jessica to help me identify passages that could be deleted to tighten the text, and she was a master at finding unnecessary or distracting elements. I’ve learned that sometimes I pontificate on psychological theory when describing my characters’ thoughts, feelings, and motivations. *shocker* We psychologists really do analyze everything to death, I guess!
Writing for an online community has been the perfect outlet for the introverted and extroverted aspects of my personality. After a full week of seeing psychotherapy clients, there is nothing more restorative than sitting on my sofa with my laptop and plus-sized cat, happily writing a tale that can put to use my obsessive interest in exploring my characters’ thoughts and feelings. But after a time, writing can get lonely. That’s where posting my stories online comes in. I have developed friendships all across the globe, from London to Australia to South Africa, and it has been so fun to incorporate readers’ ideas and insights into my stories.