Thank you for reading, for supporting, for everything you are to me. Have a beautiful and blessed New Year!
Got my first negative comment on Weeds of Detroit while running ads for the preorder release. It hit me square on in the weirdest way.
The book was posted only for preorders, and though the paperback was only live for one day at the time of the post, the ebook hadn’t yet gone live, so the man who commented wouldn’t have been able to have a copy shipped to him, read it, and post.
The comment came from a black man (at least the man on his thumbnail was), who lived in Detroit. He shared the ad with one word above it, “trash”.
And I understand.
Weeds of Detroit has been published in this time when racial tensions are carrying a big charge. And here I am, some white girl who spent six months as a runaway in a tough motel, and thinking I have something to say about it. The man who commented on my post must’ve been moved in some way in order to take the time to share the post and criticize a book he hadn’t read.
What the man didn’t know is that Weeds of Detroit is about the 1986 Detroit that I experienced. It is the story of people…black, white, middle eastern, drug-addicted, hard-working, hooking, caught-in-the-system people, who were just trying to play the tough game of life in a way that would win them their survival.
There’s racism depicted in the book–but I depicted it as I saw it: evenly spread around between blacks, whites, and arabs. Weeds of Detroit a slightly gritty read, pulling the edge of the curtain back on drug addicts, prostitutes, even cops who don’t do their job and ones who do far more. But what I hope people get from it all is akin to my girl, Lael, as she stares down the barrel of a gun and comes to a finite understanding of humanity (that trash happened).
So, I’d like you to decide for yourself. If you’d like to try the book, you can download a preview HERE for FREE. You’ll also get signed up for my newsletter, which will introduce you to my teen/young adult Misty Provencher catalog of fantasy reads, as well as my Misty Paquette adult catalog of contemporary romances, literary fiction, and erotica.
And we’ll become friends.
I know a lot of authors worry when they’re putting out a new book. They’re intimidated by what readers will think and many of them report spending opening day huddled in a closet or under a bed. I’m not usually bothered, but this time…I’ve got my spot picked out in the very back corner of my closet.
Why the worry this time? When I finished Weeds of Detroit, I thought, this story may not be what people expect of a Detroit tale. Did I draw back the curtain enough? And doesn’t it seem almost moronic to say a novel is based on true events? What does that even mean? A lie based on the truth? Huh???
Every year since 2009 (when I wrote the very first manuscript of WEEDS) I’ve revisited this story with different ideas of how to write it. In my earliest drafts, I tried writing Weeds as a memoir. I changed the point of view about 80 times, to Will’s perspective, to third person, to look out through Lavina’s eyes — none of it worked. One year, I thought it would be brilliant to get up on a literary pulpit and make Weeds into a young adult novel with a stellar message … one message was that it could be used as a tool to encourage kids to stay in school (sigh … it’s not that) … another idea was to offer commentary on the state of the city (groan … it’s not that) … and another was to address the uselessness of racial tensions (oh, Lord … it’s not that either). I even thought about (and wrote) some extremely over-dramatized versions to make the tale even more, more, MORE super-sized than it already was, with eyeballs hanging out, and gory bedroom scenes, and salacious, salacious, SALACIOUS…because at points I felt like I should try to compete with the 50 Shades of Gray and the Avengers and the EVERYTHING THAT IS BIGGER-THAN-LIFE stories out there.
And then I realized, early this year, that what I really, really, REALLY wanted was to capture the truth. I wanted to write the true emotional experience of being a sheltered teen who was totally unprepared for living in a Detroit hotel. That’s it. Forget the BIG stories — this ain’t no Iron Man. I just wanted to give readers a look into some of the incredible experiences I had, in the context of an interesting story.
So, I began what seems like the zillionth draft of this book, which will be the book you can read on October 25th. I know that it may be dissected for the truth, questioned for the fiction, used as a race-against-race tool to jab each other in the eye … but I sincerely hope that it is none of that.
I just told the story of what it was like to live in Detroit as a naive kid.
I suppose I’ll always wonder if I pulled back the curtain enough, but since the curtain resembles more of a shower curtain than a theater curtain, well … geez … you get what you get. By the way, there is a Note From the Author in the back of the book that separates out some of the fact from the fiction a bit more, if you are interested.
So, that’s the truth. This story was a bugger to write. It is the first book which will have me actually huddled under my bed, terrified, on opening day (October 25th) and, possibly, ever after. I hope you like it and, most of all, I hope the characters ring true, like flawed and glorious family photos of humanity displayed on the walls of a 1986 Detroit.
I have so many things to tell you, so I’m just going to jump to it!
In an attempt to separate my genres and categories, there’s a new change coming soon and you are the first to know. In my recent rebranding, I’ve got this new website, a new logo, and new names!
THIS NEW WEBSITE!!
YES! Clean and simple, easy to navigate–you can find the blog, events tab, list sign-up, contact info, and BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS at a snap!
My young adult titles will be consecutively fantasy books, written under the name Misty Provencher.
My new adult and adult titles will be consecutively contemporary books, written under the name Misty Paquette. The changes will be coming by the end of the year.
I’m excited to show you guys my new logo (by Starla Huchton) which includes the tag line that YOU—the readers—gave me. I am so proud that you are delighted with my unexpect
ed story ideas and plot twists, and honored to bring out a logo that puts our ideas together. I hope you enjoy it!
If you follow me, or if you don’t…I’m talking today about the based-on-true-events novel I’m currently working on, Weeds of Detroit.
“Working on” might not sound funny to anybody but me. What most of you don’t know is that this book has already been written…and re-written…and re-written…several times.
Weeds of Detroit, originally titled Help, was the third book I’d ever written, although it was my fifth, Cornerstone, that was the first to be published. Out of those four early books, two will languish to dust on my hard drive without ever seeing the light of day again and the other two I have long planned to re-write and publish. One of those two is Weeds of Detroit.
If you’re a writer, you can probably see where I’m going with this.
Being the third book I’d ever written, Help was a big, fat, sloppy book, lacking in craft, development, and industry knowledge. Although I’d always been a writer, I’d always written much shorter pieces than novels. I dove into writing this story loosely based on my younger years with the zeal of Augustus Gloop stooping at the edge of Wonka’s chocolate pond.
When I finally finished Help, it tipped the scales at something like 140,000 words. It was a bloated, meandering beast of a tale with some fascinating scenes and no plot to be seen for pages. To give you an idea, an average novel ranges about 70-80,000 words long. Mine was double that, without a point to it, or even the possibility of breaking it into two books. Nope–it was a literary freight train with box cars that derailed and flew off the track every few chapters. Back in 2009, I had no clue about genre guidelines, tightness of plot, and didn’t think economy of words was something you had to worry about in a novel. Poetry, yes…novel, no. Boy, did I have a LOT to learn. I also was writing a story I had lived and that made it hard not to cut the parts that were momentous to me, but a total snoozefest to everyone else.
Back then, I had a short list of about 5 agents. I had painstakingly researched agents and found five that seemed like a perfect fit to me. Those five were queried with each book I wrote. It was wildly exciting every time I got a request for a partial or full read. However, when each of these first four books were ultimately rejected by all five agents, I would just throw the story on my hard drive and start a new book to query them with again. Two of my fab five agents did eventually break the rejection trend with Cornerstone, but that’s a story for another day.
Help was queried as the flabby monster it was back in 2009. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but every writer has to start somewhere and I sure did start in the furthest outpost of B.F.E. (if you don’t know where that it is, google it, you youngster).
Help was instantly rejected by each of my five. As in, I’d send it out and within minutes to hours, I had a rejection letter in my inbox. Like the agents hadn’t even blinked before they’d said no! There was not one request for even a partial read, which I’d grown accustomed to receiving. Nada. Nothing. For this story, I decided to query a couple more agents- I think there were seven others I tried, but I got pretty much the same or no response at all. At the time, I assumed it was my writing, or the gritty subject matter that was sending me butt-skidding out of the agent’s favor…not the whopping 140,000 words I was stuffing in their request boxes.
I learned, about a year later, that starting off a query with “I have a morbidly obese word count for you,” doesn’t get you any gold stars. However, it does often gets you an instant rejection. Tada! More embarrassing, I had actually argued with another writer who kindly suggested I take a weed whacker to the book, that I couldn’t possibly cut one word- that every single one was necessary. God…I was such a noob.
So, as per my usual path, I threw Help on the hard drive and it sat there, taking up a good chunk of real estate on each of the three computers I’ve owned since it was written in 2009.
Not to say I didn’t take it out every now and again and play with it. In fact, every single year I’ve thought it was going to be the year to re-write this book. For various reasons, every single time I tried, I just wasn’t ready. Or it wasn’t. At first, I just didn’t know where to begin to hack and chop. I re-wrote the opening a dozen times–starting with different scenes, changing the tense, even changing the narrator completely. Nothing fit.
In time, and a few million failed attempts to make Help read well, I discovered that I what I really needed was to write all the books I’ve written so far in order to be able to re-write Help the way I think it should be written. It took writing a bunch of other books for me to develop the ability to see a little more clearly what was fat in the story and what was not. I also found that I didn’t have a great handle on the real plot of the story. In early drafts I was still more worried about accuracy than plot and it resulted in more blubbery, ambling scenes that buried the reader in fits of yawning. I studied the crap out of plotting. I made notes and boards and flow charts. But, every year, I still stepped up to the plate and then abandoned the project again for lack of craft, clarity, or interest.
But the story has continued bubbling on a back burner in my head. And then, 2016 comes along and something in me says I’m ready. I’ve re-worked the entire story down to the cellular level. It has been a pleasure to write so far, even if at times it still gets a little emotionally sticky. A couple of times I’ve had to trash the scenes and re-write yet again, because it’s still a little too close and this is a novel, not a memoir. It’s a funny little pin-point line to walk.
So, that’s where I’m at… if this kind of thing interests you at all. This is the history of the writing of Weeds of Detroit…a lot of sitting and waiting for the right moment. Hahaha…which is exactly the experience of just about every writer involved in the publishing world. It requires patience, these stories. And this one has finally found its time.
(Coming, October 25, 2016)