There is a language that passes between a writer and a reader when they are speaking of shared words. It can be silent, it can be rowdy, it can be effusive, it can, occasionally, be wondrous.
But every time it happens, I am reminded of the famous epigraph to E.M Forster’s novel, Howard’s End: “Only connect!’’
I agonize over revisions—and not because I dread them. Instead, I crave the opportunity to wallow in the words, tossing any that don’t add to the story line and replacing them with new connections and symbols. Months after publication, I dread studying the set of 85,000 words too closely, ever expecting to discover more ways to update, polish, and repair.
Remember the old saying "Life Begins At Forty?" Well, to promote my baseball novel, The Closer, I am using a variation on that theme --"Life Begins At Seventy." After celebrating the start of my eighth decade on earth, the novel was published (Sunbury Press), and I won four gold medals as a sprinter in the 2012 San Diego Senior Olympics.
What does that really mean when you’re a fiction writer who writes romantic suspense? I mean, I don’t know any psychopaths, stalkers, or serial killers. Research helps. Discovering the characteristics of those personality types. What makes them tick? What motivates them to do the things they do?
When embarking upon a novel, most writers – myself included – have some idea of where we are headed. In varying degrees, we map out our plots and mould our characters, devise inciting incidents, and plan our endings. Yet just as we cannot know at the outset how life will affect us, the novelist takes a leap into the unknown, hoping that through the very act of writing, disarray will be tidied and madness given meaning.
If you do mention you’re a writer before you’re published, you’ll invariably be met with a number of unwelcome responses, all resembling the same patronizing quip: What a great hobby! Or even more annoying, you’ll be cornered by some enthusiastic self-proclaimed “kindred spirit” who, wouldn’t you know it, is a writer too!
Looking back over a distinguished writing career, you began with shared universe work for Star Trek and Star Wars, and fantasy. But once you built a loyal readership, you’ve tended to specialize in mystery, historical fiction, and fantasy/horror.
A year ago, a friend reposted the link to the launch party for my novel The Mourning Hours, adding the words: “Come support a local writer!” Underneath it, I noticed later, a friend of hers had commented, “Yeah, but how good could a local writer be?”
It happened in San Francisco. It was nearly four a.m., and I still hadn’t adjusted to west coast time. I passed the hours in bed, alternating between games of Candy Crush and Twitter. As a debut author, I spend a lot of time Googling my novel, and up until this point, there hadn’t being anything to suggest anyone actually read it.
Nanowrimo is a delightful, thoughtful, inspiring space and time for many, many people. Which is awesome.
I will be on the sidelines with my pompoms, refusing to jump on the field, because the whole damn thing stopped making sense to me long ago.
“Miss, get back to me when you’re Dr. Seuss famous.”
That was one of the first reactions I received when I told my 100 7th grade students that I was publishing a novel.
The main piece of congratulations I got from my squirrelly middle schoolers was: “Will you share the money with us?!” Ha. As per usual, my hooligans who I spend all day with keep me in check. They will never allow me to take myself too seriously, and thank goodness for that. No one likes that pretentious, never-smiling writer who goes around constantly sighing about how their agent and editor just “don’t see eye to eye.” Oh, please.
The first time my helicopter mom tendencies surfaced was when … oh let’s see … it must have been when the doctor walked into the exam room and said, “You’re pregnant.”
Yeah, my kids never stood a chance.
I’m the mom who cuts up grapes into itty-bitty pieces (grapes are a known choking hazard) and who will make her kids wear life jackets in the lake until they are drinking age. I, also, won’t let them out of my sight at a busy store.
A lot has changed in the publishing industry in the last five years. Getting attention for a book can be nearly impossible in this content-is-king, digital-is-the-new-black, everyone-is-on-mobile, 100-books-per-day-get-published market. No one knows that better than the people working in the industry to promote books, create buzz, and garner attention for authors and their work in this digital and social media age.
Some years ago – I think specifically it was my third year as an undergraduate English major – I spent the Fall and Winter terms attending a very dull seminar on what should have been the very lively topic of Romantic Poetry. One really has to try hard to make Keats, Byron, Shelley and Wordsworth boring, but where there’s a will there’s a corpse. Anyway, the pursed-lip professor said one memorable thing, which was that only a poem can describe a moment in time. Only poetry can avoid the linear structure that binds prose to a definite essence of progressive time, which means that each added adjective or descriptive phrase takes the reader further and further away from that subject moment.
The Merlin Spiral is a blend of Arthurian legend, fantasy, and 5th century history. We all know legends are interesting, otherwise the ancients wouldn’t have handed them down to us. And these days fantasy sure holds everyone’s attention.
The Shining (Stephen King, 1977)
This is simply the scariest horror novel I have ever read, and don’t think you know what’s going on in between those covers just because you saw Kubrick’s masterpiece by the same name. These are very different stories with very different protagonists and monsters.