Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Continuing the series

While I wait for my copies of Turbulence to arrive, I'm working on the rest of the series.

Ripples is coming along slowly. Today I didn't write at all. I attended a history conference instead. But the characters are slowly coming together, becoming stronger, and the writing is getting more concise.

During the conference today, I tried listening to a speaker whose lecture I had anticipated. Unfortunately, his voice was so soft I could hear almost nothing he said. Fortunately, he did provide a handout. So I read through the handout and packed it up for future reference.

Then I pulled out my writing notebook and developed an approach I've been considering for Silence, the last book in the series. I managed to write more than a page, and I think it will work. I need to do more research.

When I submitted my first book, Innocent People, to various publishers (ultimately I decided I couldn't wait and self--published) I wondered what I would do during the months it would take for the publishers to get back to me. I decided to immediately start another book, which became Echoes. I need to stay busy. It helps.

I don't write every day, but I can't really stop either.

What about you?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Days of Turbulence

You know how it starts--if you read Rebounding, anyway. A tragedy or a mystery? That's the first question.

And I've told you that the main character in this book is Brad. He's first-born, an accomplished mechanical engineer who has worked his way through the ranks. He has two sons and a wife. They live in Evanston, a suburb of Chicago, in a five-bedroom house with a three-car garage. Success and prosperity mean a great deal to Brad. In fact, they define him.

Until the plane crash. That changes everything.

And that's where I need to stop. Brad's journey is complex, and cannot be summed up in a few sentences. Besides, I don't want to spoil any of the surprises.

Turbulence is ready for you. Are you ready?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Get Ready!

Technically, Turbulence has already been published. The official date of publication was February 9. But, in my own eyes, it's not published until I hold a copy in my hands.

That day is coming soon. Today I sent in my order to the printing company. I should have them in two weeks--possibly less.

Holding my newly-published book can't compare to holding my newborn. But it is a special moment. All those hours. All those pages. All those commas. And writing a book actually takes longer than carrying an unborn child. (It's also much easier on the body!)

Two readers have already contacted me with their orders. Over the next week I'll work to update my website. I'm nearly ready for the new arrival.

And once you read Turbulence, I really want to discuss it with you.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nearly ready!

The final proof has been approved and Turbulence is now officially ready for the printer.

The writing of this book has been turbulent. It began in a little white house in Worcester, MA. When we moved to Wisconsin, I set aside my writing long enough to pack. And unpack. Soon after we arrived, I began teaching part-time. I lived for the moments before, after, and between classes when I could return to my story.

Not only that. The book which Turbulence has become is much different than the story I started out with. I was on my third or fourth draft when I realized I was leaving out an important point. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn't go away. As I've said, and as other writers will say, I didn't so much create the story as discover it. When I stepped back and allowed my instincts to take over, the book began to come together.

Turbulence is also special in another way. Back in 2003, I think, I had a very interesting dream. There were many components and it was rich with plots. The dream inspired me to write Echoes--the main character of my dream was Joshua. Echoes flowed into Rebounding and then Turbulence. All three books emerged, in some way, from that single dream.

Now I am making revisions on Ripples. This story is also engaging. But I struggled to begin, to identify my characters, because this is the first book which is not part of that one dream. By the time you read it, I hope it will be every bit as strong and interesting as the others.

But Turbulence is special. In a few weeks you'll be able to read it, and I think you will see what I mean.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Overcoming intimidation

About a week ago, I wrote that I had trouble writing because I was at a difficult scene and didn't have time to adequately deal with it.

I managed to procrastinate all this time. Finally, this morning, I sat down and worked with the scene. It's smoother now, and more powerful.

And I learned that the only impediment to my success was my own fear.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Problem with Creativity

I received a note from my son's science teacher today. He has A's in every area except homework. That area needs to be worked on. But the teacher noted that he is creative. Very creative.

Which is probably why it's so hard for him to do the homework. Who wants to sit and write out answers when your mind is writing stories. A few minutes ago he finished telling me his plot for one of his books. He has two series planned. (He's ahead of me. After Echoes Series, I can't think of starting another one.) His stories are full of blood and revenge. The plots hold together. I can't wait to read them.

But he doesn't want to do his homework. He refuses to fit into the norms of society. He always has. I did have a talk with him. I showed him the website of a college in Europe which I know he would like to attend. I emphasized that he will have to do well in high school in order to attend this college. (He's in 8th grade now.) I hope that will be a strong enough incentive.

I'm sure his mind will wander, though, when he's supposed to be taking notes or writing down formulas. Just as mine always has. He'll stare at the blackboard while envisioning swords and dragons. And next fall another teacher will tell me he's not doing his homework and he has trouble focusing.

An imagination is a wonderful thing. The problem is trying to keep it reined in.

That's something I'm still trying to learn. As old as I am, it probably doesn't matter anymore.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Can't figure this out

For some reason, my last two posts for this blog have appeared in my other blog, Echoes of Peace. I hope you will check them out.

And I hope to fix this soon. I'll keep working at it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Not enough sleep

I just wrote today's post for this blog and accidentally uploaded it to a different blog. I need to go to bed earlier. Later I'll correct it.

Remember, getting adequate sleep is important for writers. And other people, too.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Afraid to write (well, kind of, in a manner of speaking)

As I've said, I'm working on revisions for Ripples, the fourth book in the Echoes Series. (I'm waiting for the word on Turbulence. Very, very soon.)

But I have a problem. I'm at the point of revising a major scene. Much emotion. It has to be done just right.

So what am I doing these days? I'm shopping. I'm surfing the internet. I'm watching TV. I'm interacting with my family.

And every day I open my Ripples file. I look at the first few sentences of that scene. I minimize and run off to my next activity. Because I know once I get started on that scene, it will require all of me.

I won't be able to dabble with it. I can't change a few lines before picking up my purse or polish a sentence during the commercial break. It's not that kind of scene.

I'm stuck in limbo. I want to work on my book, but I know I have to deal with that scene. Right now I simply don't have the time or concentration it needs. I won't be able to do it justice. I simply open the file and think about else I need to be doing.

I can't wait until my life becomes a little quieter so I can jump back into Ripples and run with it. Soon, I hope.

I'm not really writing these days (I've said that a lot lately, haven't I?). But I am enjoying myself. And when I do get back to it, I will be so ready no one will be able to stop me.

I hope.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Don't give up

When I was in high school, I wrote many short stories. And one novel. None has been published. I did make a few hesitant attempts to publish one or two of my short stories. But I didn't really think it would happen. And it didn't.

It took me over 30 years to try again. When i did, I decided not to accept rejection or defeat. It's still a long, hard road somedays. Trying to get my books noticed. Searching for the marketing approach which could catapult me into the national spotlight. Wishing and dreaming. Sometimes planning.

Two days ago I was walking through the bookstore, determined not to leave until I found the perfect book to buy with my 15% off coupon (talk about marketing!). I chose many. Some I thunbed through. It took me nearly 90 minutes to decide. Partly because I wasn't satisfied with the quality of many of the books I browsed.

My mother tells me I can write well. And various other friends and relatives. But I needed that validation. I can write as well as others whose books grab the attention of major publishers and end up on the shelves of large chain bookstores.

If they can do it, I think I can too. Some write much better than I do, but all it takes is practice and determination. I think I can. . .I think I can. . .I think I can.

No best-selling author was born that way. Each had to work for recognition. And so will I.

(Although, actually, that's just a fringe benefit. I write because I must.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Reading and Writing

I don't normally read another novel while I'm working on one of my own, but I recently made an exception. I started the book weeks ago, and recently returned to it and became hooked on the characters.

The book is The Kite Runner. It's been on my reading list for quite a while--I bought it about a year ago. I'm glad I finally took the time to read it.

The main characters were well developed and the story was gripping as it linked the lives of the characters with events in Afghanistan over the last 30 years. The conflict was real and the ending was satisfying. I won't say anything more, for those of you who may not have read it yet. I do recommend this book.

Writers are also readers. I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't love books. My mother began taking me to the library when I was a toddler. In grade school, my best friend and I spent our time together by reading. My husband, and sons, complain sometimes about the number of books in our house. Especially when we have to move. I feel a certain excitement when beginning a new story, and a certain let down when I finish it.

In recent years, I've begun reading much more critically. I note what the author did well, and silently criticize him or her when I feel I could have done better. When reading a mystery, I read the first 20 or 30 pages and then skip to the ending. After I know the solution to the mystery, I continue reading to see how the writer arrived at the conclusion.

Reading is not only enjoyable, it's an integral part of what it means to be a writer. And I would advise any young writer to read as much as possible. Words are our tools, and we learn by studying the craftsmanship of others.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Not in the mood

I haven't kept up with my blogs this week. And I don't have a good reason for that. My health is greatly improved. I have plenty of time. It's only that I haven't felt much like writing this week.

Which is okay, once in a while. If I make a habit of it, I will be in serious trouble. But sometimes writers need breaks from the written word.

I have made some progress on my newest novel, even writing in important revisions. But I've covered only a handful of pages. Still, it is progress.

And that's what's really important. Moving ahead, sometimes plodding, occasionally pausing for a break--but never giving up.

It's been said that many have books they could write. But the writers are those of us who stick with it. Sometimes racing to the climax. Sometimes making unimpressive gains. Always writing.

Or at least thinking about it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Show and Tell

This topic is discussed often in writers' circles, and I have probably addressed it before. But it bears repeating because it is crucial to good writing.

I am in the process of revising Ripples, the fourth books. (BTW, Turbulence will be out in a matter of weeks, insha Allah.) In my early drafts, I told. The important thing was to get the story down and I didn't take time to work with the details. In my current and later revisions, I need to pay more attention.

For instance, in one passage I simply said, "Uncle Brad is irritated." Then I went on with another part of the story.

Uncle Brad is irritated. How can you tell? What did he say? What did he do? How did you react? All these are essential.

So I'm enjoying myself these days by filling in the gaps. Showing is so much more fun than telling. I love to write a good argument. (It's a great stress reliever.)

Don't just tell your readers that Mary is sad or the building is beautiful. Show them. Describe it to them. They want to see it too.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Getting new ideas

I didn't write again today. For the first time in over a month I felt normal. So I pursued one of my favorite pastimes. Going grocery shopping. I could explain, but that's not the purpose of this blog.

Just because I wasn't sitting at my laptop doesn't mean I wasn't working on my writing. I observed. Sometimes, if I'm in a very good observational mood, I will watch others--discreetly, of course--and imagine the spaces in their lives. The woman at the check out counter. Does she have children? A husband? How was her childhood? What clues can I gain from her mannerisms, her communication, and even the way she dresses?

What about the woman strolling the aisles of the health food store with her husband? Why were they there? Did either one have a major health concern? Were they looking at the juices because they like juice or because it helps with health concerns?

And what about the lone clerk in the bookstore? Was he counting the hours until the end of his shift, or did he enjoy his job as much as he appeared to? What does he do when he's not at work? What does he read?

This all sounds very nosy, I know. But I wonder. Even when I watch the other cars on the road, I wonder where they're going. And why.

And when I write, I fill in the blanks. I develop composite characters from the people I've met or come across, assigning them emotions, backgrounds, and preferences.

Other times I watch people to find those who look most like my characters. But that's another topic.