Brushing off the dust

It’s Thursday! And that means I totally missed my day to post yesterday. Sorry, sorry, sorry! To make it up to you, here are Dame Jenna’s winners:


Paige Vest, who said: “Yay! for release day!! Congrats! I’d love to have Dark Descendant if I were to win! Actually, I’d love them both but I’ll not be a greedy girl.) But I am in the U.S. and would love either book signed! Thanks for the giveaway and happyhappyhappy release day!”




Lingeorge, who said: “Congratulations on release day! I have been so looking forward to this book — going onto my nook right now!”




carol shenold, who said: “Happy release day. It’s getting dangerous for me to look at new releases because I always want to read them. Do you know how big my TBR pile is now???”


Congratulations! Please email Dame Jenna at jennablackbooks AHT aol DAHT CALM and be sure to include your mailing address and which book you would prefer: DARK DESCENDANT or DEADLY DESCENDANT.




So I’m sure that you’ve heard writers confidently tell one another never to throw any writing away, whether you’re murdering your darlings or trunking a novel. “You could always reuse it,” we say knowingly. Taking entire scenes, chapters, characters, dialogue, even plots from our unsold works and retooling them for a current WIP is very doable. The original version of the bulimia/bathroom scene from my book HUNGER was in an unpublished short story I wrote back in college called “Instead of Fried Chicken,” which never made it past my creative writing workshop. The original version of a fight scene in my book THE ROAD TO HELL was from the second novel I ever wrote (also unpublished) called HEY CHARLES, YOUR SLIP IS SHOWING.We absolutely should reuse our unpublished material; otherwise, it’s just collecting dust.


But there’s another thing we should do every once in a while: brush off the dust of our trunked novels and give them a clean read.


That may sound like a waste of time. But think about it: you’re a stronger writer now than you were all those years ago when you wrote that first book (or books). Your editorial eye is sharper. Reading old material with fresh eyes, after a long time away from the work, may confirm that yes, the book was trunked for a reason. Or you may decide that with a thorough revision, you could have a strong novel.


You may even realize that you’ve been sitting on a novel that’s ready right now to go make the rounds.


Sound nuts? It’s not. Another pearl that writers share is that the market is cyclical, so even if the book you loved didn’t have a market when you were ready to put it on submission, there’s a strong likelihood that after a few years, the market will return to it.


So if you find yourself between projects, take out one of your old manuscript and dust it off, grab some chocolate, and sit back to read your work.


You may be surprised by what you find.


  1. says

    I don’t actually have any trunk novels. I have (ahem) sold every novel I’ve completed. But I have a ton of trunk proposals — a few chapters and an outline of story ideas that I think are fabulous that acquiriing editors found, er, resistable.

    But, you’re right, trends change. And at least one of the trunk proposals was on a theme that I was resoundingly informed was OUT when I originally came up with the idea. But now I see that the theme that was, at that time, anathema, has suddenly become marketable.


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