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Friday, June 24, 2011

My Gratitude Journal: Writing Friends

Those of you who have been following this blog know that on Fridays I express my gratitude for the creative life. Today I especially want to thank my writing friends for their inspiration.

When I think of writing friends, I'm not talking about the stars I have met at conferences whom I remember with fondness, but who wouldn't remember me. (I'm thinking of the time at a romance writers' banquet when Nora Roberts asked my sister if the dessert was chocolate. :-)

I'm not thinking of riding the hotel elevator with Susan Elizabeth Phillips or the airplane home with Catherine Coulter. Although I've had those experiences and have been just as star-struck as anyone, I don't go home inspired afterward.

I'm thinking of the rising stars whose names may be little better known than my own, but whose work gets me back to the computer even on days when I think I'd be more successful in plumbing.

I'm thinking of rising star Elana Johnson, whom I met at a writers' conference a few months ago and who has become a guru to me, although (let's be honest) I'm old enough to be her mother.

I'm thinking of Chris Stewart and Jerry Borrowman, men whose books are much more masculine (read: techno-thriller/war/political intrigue)than anything I will ever write, but who have inspired me with their publishing world savvy -- and their french fries. (Thanks, Chris!)

Knowing other people who struggle with willful characters who won't do what they're told and plots that sink in the middle and who still write coherent, enjoyable books helps me believe I can do the same.

If you're an author or an author-in-the-making, let me suggest that you try to meet and surround yourself with as many competent, successful writers as you can. That way, there is always a muse available when you need one.

Who inspires you? Share?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How Maggie Reads Auras

In my current work in progress, MAGGIE RISING, Maggie is working her way through Cal State University, Chico as a psychic reader and that means she reads auras. She says there is nothing psychic about it.

Here is how Maggie describes the experience:

I began ... as I often begin a session, by reading her aura. I have the subject stand against a light-colored wall, one I had painted in Rock Candy White specifically for this purpose, and then I study the light I see around her body, and especially around her head.

Don’t freak out when I tell you this, but I’ve always been able to see people’s auras. Although I usually have to focus hard to see them, sometimes they just jump out at me, especially when they’re bright (the auras, I mean, not necessarily the people). I have a peculiar sensitivity to light – the same thing that gives me a migraine if I get a sudden bright glare shot directly into my eyes, only more productive. So I see auras; no biggie.

To me they look a bit like the “ghosts” you see on old, slightly off TV sets, except that auras have some color in them. The colors are what I read: blue for intelligence, gold (it looks silvery to me) for spirit, pink for love, green for ill health or lack of rest … you get the idea.

So here's the $64 question for the day: Where did I get this information? Hmmm... Stop by sometime and I'll tell you about it -- while I read your aura. :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Making Characters Breathe

First, on a personal note, let me wish a happy, happy birthday to Becca. Love you, Sweetie!

Today's fiction writing lesson from the web is a fun piece I found by writing coach and independent editor, Lucia Zimmitti. She takes you through some writing exercises designed to help you create seeming-real, flesh-and-blood characters who will not only breathe, but will breathe life into your work.

She does this by using, among other things, a few pages from your character's diary, a doctor's report, and a job application.

Have fun with this one!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Sweetest Season

Blessings come through the year, at every time and season. Still there's something delicious about spring.

Our spring has been awkward this year, a little like a shambling puppy -- eager to please and not quite certain of its welcome. Yet I doubt there could be a season more lovely.

As we move into high summer, I can't help recalling with delight the days of perfect temperatures, easy breezes, and the fragrant scents of flowers, flowers everywhere, brought to us throughout April and May.

I'm looking forward to the long, lazy afternoons of summer, the crisp days of autumn, and even the Christmas season that brightens the dead of winter. But nothing, nothing is ever quite as beautiful as spring.

Spring, you can come again any day. Never mind what the calendar says.

What is your favorite time of year? Share?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Like the Very First Time

Nothing is more fun than getting your first book contract, seeing your first galley proofs, and opening the package when your first finished books come in the mail. That first book changes everything, everything. Nothing in the world is quite like it. Still I’ve managed to find a couple of close seconds.

Every book has been a thrill. With eight novels behind me and the ninth in progress, I still eagerly anticipate each sale, each new cover, each set of first copies in the mail. No thrill is ever quite like the first (they say you always remember your first book, right? Oh, that wasn’t about books? Really?), but each is wonderful, and that makes every subsequent book a close second.

The other way to recreate that first book thrill is to share it with someone you love. I did that in 2008 when my husband sold his first book. My dh is a journalist. He has spent his career covering school board meetings and traffic accidents, natural disasters and chili cook-offs, local campaigns and charity fund raisers, all without raising an eyebrow or showing a glimmer of opinion.

Then sometime around 20 years ago, he looked at the small town paper he was editing and realized he was giving readers the news they needed, but failing them sadly when it came to entertainment, or even a bright spark to lighten their day.

He began writing a humor column focused on the silly things that happened every day in our large, funny family. That column has appeared weekly for nearly two decades. Over time our lives have changed, the columns have become less about the kids and more about the grandkids, but the fun and the feeling have continued as his fans have come to know our family.

People began asking when he was going to write a book. Then one day he looked at the hundreds of columns he had completed and realized he had written a book. We put it together and A Place in the Shower Schedule: 101 Favorite Columns became a reality. He got to thrill to all the first-time author experiences and I got to experience it all vicariously, enjoying his fun.

Now we’re doing it again; Roger’s second book will be out this summer. It’s Time for Senior Showers: 99 More Favorites is a compilation of his more recent work. One day soon we will get those first copies in the mail. Will it be like the first time? No, it never is, but every book is a thrill.