Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Night Before Christmas Eve - Repost

And here we are at my final article for the Avalon Authors Blog. I hope these have been of some use to you in your writing journey. I've reposted them here because, even though Classic and Cozy will also include many of my Avalon Author colleagues and I will be contributing an article every month, on the 4th Tuesday, Avalon Authors will be an archive. Perhaps you can imagine how I feel about that! I also have another blog, if you're interested: Everwriting and you are welcome to join me there as well.

December 23, 2013

For the past twelve months, I have been writing a 6-part novel by installment: Nights Before. The final story, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve, was released on December 17th, the anniversary of the publication of Charles Dickens's,  A Christmas Carol.

I began this novel in 2012 with 'Twas the Night Before New Year – a romantic comedy about a young woman, Jocelyn Tavers, whose boyfriend leaves her alone on New Year's Eve to take a skiing trip. Jocelyn determines she will not face another New Year's Eve party without a date and on that first night before the New Year, she meets three eligible hopefuls, the unwise princes.

Through a process of natural selection, self-inflicted disqualification and ultimate ineligibility, Jocelyn finds the love of her life and dreams, in time to secure a date for the last party night of the year. Through the year, she learns more about love and comes to understand what she really wants. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve and its five forerunners are all available on the iBookstore, Amazon, All Romance Ebooks and other major online retailers.

On this day before Christmas Eve, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The stories in this serial novel are:
'Twas the Night Before New Year, 'Twas the Night Before Valentine's Day, 'Twas the Night Before Mother's Day, 'Twas the Night Before Labor Day, 'Twas the Night Before Veterans Day, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve. They are all available on the iBookstore, Amazon, Smashwords, All Romance eBooks, and other online booksellers.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pen, Paper, Journal - Repost

February 23, 2013

Desperately seeking a lost manuscript (remember those, handwritten in ink, possibly on lined paper?), I came across a stack of my journals from years in college, traveling, first years of courtship and marriage.

These journals – the diaries of old – have been replaced by digital explosions of shared communication in forms of blogs, tweets, posts, many of which have the same abandon that a private, locked diary once had for the diarist. I now tweet and blog and post, less frequently than some of my contemporaries, and with much less openness than I wrote in my journals.

My circumspection, even in private papers, has always been the result of my mother's stern warning: "Never put in writing anything you don't want someone else to read."

As it happens, that is also the advice of my current employer, an attorney at law. Similar advice has come to me from priests and academics. This same circumspection has afflicted women throughout history. Do you remember the saying: "A lady's name appears only thrice in publications: her birth, her marriage and her death." The same constraints kept me from even the thought of publishing my longer fiction until six years ago.

But here I am a writer, inviting people to read my words, willingly lashing myself to the mast of subjective taste. I want people to read – not my journals or random thoughts or insecurities – but my peculiar interpretation of what I see, hear and feel about this experience of living. Writers will put their best friends in their books, mothers, brothers, husbands. We can't help using the material living casts before us.

We are also dependent on the experience of others to inform our narrow view and that is why, in the last century, women's diaries, private pages, memoirs and autobiographical writing became the focus of academic study. When I edited three volumes of women's autobiographies, I was hopeful of the contribution their publication was making to the knowledge of 20th Century historians.

Where else will you find the eyewitness experience of a young Welsh nurse as she enters the gates of Belsen Concentration Camp? Who can tell you better about a little girl's journey from London on an evacuee train? Who knows better about a young mother's distress at the failure of her newborn to thrive during the Blitz? What cakes made without eggs or butter tasted like?

In this century, there is no dearth of such information. We are the most recorded, exposed and examined society of all far. But I wonder what all this information has to offer our imaginations and our creativity.

If all is known, what is left to discover?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Writing Ambitions - Repost

If you're considering giving up on writing, read this.

January 23, 2013

I think I must have been all of three when I told my first story. Those few babbled words started an addiction I've never been able to shake, no matter how often I told myself that writing was not going to happen. No matter how often someone else told me not to be ridiculous. No matter who said not to expect anything.

And truly, no matter how many notes, cards and letters of rejections I received.
What kind of nut puts up with that kind of abuse and keeps going back for more?

Earlier this month, I had the good fortune to attend a writers' group seminar. One of my fellow nuts was the invited speaker. She hasn't given me permission to quote her but those who were there will know. 

One part of her talk was about her writing ambitions. These were: she wanted to get published and she wanted to get published big. I don't know many writers who wouldn't wholeheartedly agree. These are great ambitions, the stuff of driving forces, the goals that get you up in the morning and set you down in front of whatever tool you use to make your ambition a reality.

She created a character. She created a story. Both with these goals in mind. The character was a salable commodity. The story was a winner. Her contract allowed her to quit her day job. She's writing stories, selling books, and giving talks. Yay! And she is a really nice person. Double yay!

Her talk encouraged me to think about my ambitions. Well, all of the above, of course! And also, to paraphase Groucho Marx, "...if you don't like those, I have others."

A three-year old probably isn't thinking about the future. I just wanted to tell my dad a story about a house I dreamed about. I still want that house but I didn't become an architect to build it. The most important parts of that event were the telling and my dad's listening.

I wasn't gathering material to write a book that would enable me to quit my day job (although that's on my wish list) when I asked questions about the plaques on the wall above my head in the hotel that became the setting for Wait a Lonely Lifetime. When I began writing my latest novel, I didn't think about what gown I would wear to the premier when Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls became a movie (not seriously anyway) although I did consider the actors I would suggest to play the hero.

The stuff of driving forces for me is the relentless appearance of characters and ideas that demand I tell their story. Now, that's nuts. If I were in any other profession, I'd be certified and sectioned. I cannot remember a time when I wasn't living with people in my head, acting out their lives while I was living mine. 

Where do they come from? I'm as much at a loss as the person who asks me. At this moment, I'm writing a serial about a young woman by the name of Jocelyn who has one broken relationship after another. How did Jocelyn appear in my writing? 

This one is simple: Avon Impulse had put out a call for novellas with several holiday themes. Too late for Halloween and Christmas, I worked on a New Year's idea, inspired by the Clement C. Moore poem, The Night Before Christmas. I simply and purposefully started writing and there she was, along with her ex-boyfriend, Jason, and three delicious possibilities for new loves in her life. 

That novella, 'Twas the Night Before New Year, has become a serial novel, Nights Before, with 'Twas the Night Before Valentine's Day, the second installment, to be published next month and four more in the initial stages. Jocelyn must have a satisfying, happy ending. 

It's the very least I can do for her.