Friday, October 2, 2009
I was surprised that only one author, Christine Bush, got inspiration from having meditational music in the background. I thought I was the odd ball because I get distracted by music and always keep my office quiet, but both Rebecca Boschee and Laurie Alice Eakes mentioned that music, especially with lyrics, was annoying.
When do our authors write? "Whenever I can squeeze it in," said Rebecca Boschee, but several authors had favorite writing times. I found that Debbye Mayne, Noelene Jenkinson, Beate Boeker, Zelda Benjamin and I all prefer the mornings. Only Terry McDermid said she does her best writing at night.
Some authors use the outdoors to get their inspiration, and travel works well for others. Unlike Terry McDermid who enjoys the mountains and the cooler weather, I get inspired by being on the water in warm weather. I love the islands and beaches and always feel inspired and ready to write when I get home. Jane Myers Perrine gets inspiration from "every place," and Beate Boeker likes to take notes when she travels then later she tries "to recall the way things felt and smelled."
Some of our authors were very specific about where they write, but others like to change their surroundings. Laurie Alice Eakes likes to change locations to help free up her mind if she gets stuck. "It's a kind of mental claustrophobia," she said. Debby Mayne has to go somewhere every day so she doesn't find herself writing in a vacuum. "I like to interact with people," she says, "experience the weather, and basically get in turne with the real world or my fictional world seems plastic."
Noele Jenkinson, who believes "a writer's life is charmed," is a plotter. She considers writing her job, so it doesn't really matter where she writes after she organzies her novels. "I can't believe I get to do something I love every day."
Noele, I think you've pretty much summed it up for all of us. I don't think I've ever met an author who doesn't like her job. Writing is what we do, and it doesn't matter where or when we do it.
Call it "charmed" or "magical" (as I mentioned last week) or just a "job," but we're lucky to do what we do - and do it for Avalon Books.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
This is always the problem for me as a published author—the balance between being humble and promoting myself. When I talk about my books, I feel a little guilty afterward like I’m bragging or something. Yet if I don’t talk about my books, how will the word get out that they are around.
Right now, only two of them are, one from Avalon. Family Guardian is the book that kept me writing. I had decided, because of my time-consuming corporate job, that I would stop writing by August 1, 2005. I got “the call” on July 18. God has a sense of humor.
That book is a Regency (still available from the publisher http://www.avalonbooks.com ) and won the 2007 National Readers Choice Award for best Regency. Talk about a shocker!
A long hiatus passed before I sold a second book to a different publisher, then another one before I sold again. But now, since December of 2008, I have sold eleven books. I’m proud—oops, I’m supposed to be humble about this—excited to say that four of them are to Avalon.
When the Snow Flies is an August, 2010 release. In 1892, a widowed doctor arrives in the town, where she is to take up a practice she and her late husband spent their savings buying, only to discover the doctor refuses to acknowledge the sale to a woman physician. She can either go home to her society family and not practice medicine, or she can marry a man, who can no longer practice medicine, and fight for her right to be a doctor.
I have to work on that elevator speech, but that’s the brief description.
Should I be embarrassed to say that the idea for this story and the subsequent ones in the series were inspired by a nursery rhyme?
Over the centuries, this little rhyme has had many incarnations. When I was a child, we used to count on our buttons. Research tells me that a form of the poem goes back as far as the fifteenth century and the counting buttons goes back to the 1840s.
Doctor, lawyer, Merchant chief,
Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief…
I went with the first line and changed ‘chief’ to ‘chef’
The late 1800s were an interesting time. Women were beginning to enter the professions. After many years of struggle, including an unfavorable Supreme Court ruling, they were beginning to gain admittance to the Bar to practice law. Johns Hopkins University medical school started admitting women into the regular classes so they didn’t have to go overseas to get the same medical training as a man. And women were ship’s captains—merchants. Whether or not a fancy restaurant, also a growing concern, would have had a female chef is uncertain, but not impossible under the right circumstances.
I’m looking forward to writing the rest of these books. When the Snow Flies was a pleasure to write.
End of shameless self-promotion.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
You know, the one with hands waving high over your head and hips...well, you get the picture.
So why does reading newspaper headlines get this reaction? Why am I laughing as I wave the paper like an Olympic torch? Because, while catching up on last week's news, I spotted a headline that validated my first book's premise.
What does it matter?
Don't those first books have a special place in our hearts? They're the milestone we thought we could never make. This particular story started with a topic I presented to every parenting class I taught. It was...personal. Close to my heart. An idea that simmered and bubbled each time I showed videos on the subject, or held a class discussions. So, of course a rejection on this book was disappointing.
It was expected. My first attempt. A big New York publisher. But it was one line in the rejection letter that stabbed to the heart. "This couldn't happen...health clinics are too cautious...your premise is flawed."
So reading a perfect example of my 'premise' in news headlines brought on this happy dance. I've been validated. My ideas aren't flawed.
How about you? Any ideas you're hiding for fear of rejection? Any 'books of your heart' you're reluctant to write? Come share with us...and happy writing.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
To Connect or Disconnect. . .
Several months ago, after hearing Neil Plakcy http://www.mahubooks.com speak at my local FRW chapter I took the step and joined Facebook.
He spoke about the benefits of networking online and the opportunity to connect with old friends. Let them know you’ve written a book.
After getting over my fear that the world would know everything about me, I took the step. After all, if the teenage receptionist at my doctor’s office has access to my weight, age and social security # what else is there to hide?
I’ve become addicted. Most of my friends are other writers – some I know, but many I’ve never met before. If something about them sparks my interest I go to their website. I’ve discovered some books that I might never have read. I love hearing about their good days and bad days. You know those days when writing a ½ of a page is a success story.
I became a fan of some of my favorite writers. Checking out their fans and friends and asking them to become my friend is the same as joining any group where I share a common interest. Now I have friends that I know are readers.
There are competitions where friends challenge each other to see who can get the most friends in 24 hours. I am not that obsessed and at the moment have about 150 friends. I am out there to network so I rarely deny a friend request.
I became a fan of SEP who very graciously suggested the writers on her wall tell all her fans about their books. What an opportunity!
Glenys O’Connell http://www.glenysoconnell.com suggested setting up an idea file on the computer. The file replaces those unreadable Post-its, napkins and backs of sales receipts where we scribble ideas. It has helped me organize.
In a world where we don’t feel secure leaving our cell phones or BlackBerrys at home, we fear that if we don’t hear from someone via some method of staying connected something has happened.
How many methods of staying connected do you have? The next step for me just might have to be an iPhone.
Friend me on Facebook – I’m sure you know how to do it.
Monday, September 28, 2009
It’s a hard one because the truth is, I never get my ideas from the same place, the same person or at the same time of day. It’s completely random. It’s almost like I’m unconsciously researching all the time. I’ve got a gremlin sitting in the back of my head, taking notes on all the funny little things that happen in my life. Usually because it’s from these funny inconsequential events that the beginnings of a story stems.
This month, I spent a glorious seven day holiday in the Wine region of Western Australia. My family and I stayed in a little place called Yallingup. I took some photos of some Kangaroos in the area which I have included with this post. It’s the end of winter and everything is so green, lush and wet. I love it.
While I was out on a picnic with my family, surrounded by vineyards, blue skies and the ocean on the horizon, I thought to myself, what a fantastic place to get married. And of course, to get married, you need to meet someone, fall in love and have the delicious agony of not knowing if they feel the same way. The beginnings of an idea started to form in my head.
I discussed the plot with my husband who immediately jumped on my band wagon. In his expert opinion, if I was going to set a book in the south west, and particularly if it was going to involve a wedding, we had to get cracking on the food and wine tasting. After all, I couldn’t just hold a reception anywhere. It had to be the best, most beautiful, most clever winery in the region and he was just the man to figure out which one it was. Under no circumstances, was I to hold back on the research aspect of this story. He would have me know, that he was behind me - 100%!
My husband has always been very supportive of my writing. He is a darling in many respects. But for some reason in this case, I suspected him of a hidden agenda. When taxed with my concerns however, he merely waved them away and said, “Never mind about that. What do you think about setting a sequel on the Greek Islands?”