J.H. Moncrieff: Five Things I Learned Writing The Bear That Wouldn’t Leave
Sometimes evil looks like a fuzzy teddy bear.
Still grieving the untimely death of his dad, ten-year-old Josh Leary is reluctant to accept a well-worn teddy bear from his new stepfather.
He soon learns he was right to be wary. Edgar is no ordinary toy, and he doesn’t like being rejected. When Josh banishes him to the closet, terrible things happen.
Desperate to be rid of the bear, Josh engages the help of a friend. As the boys’ efforts rebound on them with horrifying results, Josh is forced to accept the truth — Edgar will always get even.
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Find Out What Publishers Want
It’s a lot easier to sell a story that publishers actually want (as long as you’re passionate about the genre or subject) than to write the novel you want and then try to find someone who’s looking for it. If you’re having difficulty getting published, give it a try.
In my case, Samhain Horror wanted stories about childhood fears for a new anthology series, and I knew that was something I could sink my teeth into, so to speak.
Tell Your Inner Critic to Suck It
I’ve written seven novels now, and none of them had outlines. Still, every time I’m about to settle in for a writing session, it happens…
What if you can’t figure out what happens next?
What if it’s not good enough?
What if no one wants to publish this, and it’s just a waste of time?
Most writers have an inner critic. If you listen to it, it’ll keep you from writing. Or it will make you rewrite your novel so many times you never finish it.
Don’t give it that power. Ignore it, keep writing, and eventually it will be drowned out by a torrent of words.
Don’t Fall In Love With Your Own Brilliance
Don D’Auria, my editor at Samhain, made very few changes to this book. But the one change he did want was BIG—he didn’t like my title.
One the other hand, I loved it. What better title for a story about a bear that keeps coming back than It Bears Repeating? I thought it was so clever.
“No one will know what the book’s about,” said Don.
So don’t fall in love with your own brilliance. Once it’s sold, anything can be changed. (And you may discover it wasn’t so brilliant after all.)
When Opportunity Knocks, Answer the Damn Door
I was busy writing a series when a friend told me about the Samhain call.
“Should I do it?” I asked. “I’ll lose momentum with my current book.”
Of course my smart friend told me to go for it, and thankfully I listened. The rest is history.
The timing is never perfect for anything, whether it’s answering a publisher’s call, writing a book, having kids, or going back to school. If you want something, go for it. You’ll only regret the stuff you haven’t done.
Keep Breaking the Rules
When it comes to writing, I break every rule in the book. I don’t outline. I don’t write at the same time every day. I don’t know the end of my novels before I start—and yet, they always work out the way they should. Whenever someone tells me I should change my way of doing things, I smile sweetly and keep on writing. (If I’m in a good mood—if I’m not, my response is a little on the blunt side.)
With The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, I broke another rule. Following Dean Wesley Smith’s advice, I didn’t give it to a million beta readers and critics. After writing the first draft, I polished it and gave it to just my copy editor before submitting. And it’s the first book I’ve gotten published. Go figure.
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J.H. Moncrieff loves scaring the crap out of people with her books—when she’s not busy being a journalist, editor, book doctor, and publicist. In her “spare” time, J.H. loves to travel to exotic locales, advocate for animal rights, and muay thai kickbox.