Archive for April, 2011

What Do You Love to Write?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 | The Writing Life | 4 Comments

No doubt by now all of you know that I love to write historical fiction. Specifically, I love to write about Eleanor of Aquitaine. And I am not alone…many talented writers are drawn to this great lady again and again, fleshing out her life, working to make her come alive once more for our readers. Eleanor is an inspiring woman.

I love writing historical fiction. I find that when a story idea comes to me, it invariably happened somewhere deep in the past. There is something about the medieval world that draws me, just as there is something about romance that draws me in, that makes me want to sit and dream awhile with my characters.

Most of the writers I know also write historical fiction, but I wonder how many other genres my writer friends dabble in? Does anyone have a penchant for mystery? Or science fiction? What other worlds open up under your pen? What is your favorite kind of story to tell?

Writing as Alchemy

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 | The Writing Life | 2 Comments

  

 

“I write with the heart, not with the pen. The pen translates.”

Sappho

 

At whatever stage we find ourselves in our careers, writers are alchemists. We take the basic tools of paper and pen, maybe a notebook, maybe a Bic, or we sit down in front of a computer, a laptop or an iPad, and we work. We put our thoughts down on the blank screen, telling our characters’ stories one word, one paragraph, one sentence at a time.

This first draft is an act of almost blind faith. Faith that we truly have something worthwhile to say, faith that our stories are good, that once they reach the hands of readers, those stories will move the ones who hear them, and thus move the world.

Before we sell anything, before our first reader takes up the pages of our third or fourth draft, we work alone, crafting our stories with care, shaping plot, adding layers of conflict, drawing out the tale as it is meant to be told.

To tell a story, to even begin, is an act of courage. To turn a blank screen or sheaf of notebook paper into a novel or a short story is an act of alchemy, the magic of turning the bare tools of lead and fire into gold.

Writing For Joy

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 | The Writing Life | 7 Comments

The most important thing a writer will ever learn is to be true to herself. Yes, we write for our readers. We write to improve our work. Our editors, both freelance and the ones that work in publishing houses, give us notes to make our books better. All that is true. And none of it will help us unless we write for ourselves first.

I am re-reading THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand. I go this this book for inspiration, and I always find it.  Ms. Rand says in her introduction that the novel is a touchstone…it has definitely been that for me since I discovered her work fourteen years ago. I’ll give one quote from it here, adapted from the original subject, architecture, to what I love, writing.

Writing “…is not a business, not a career, but a crusade and a consecration to a joy that justifies the existence of the earth.”

I return to my own touchstones, this novel and the work of Mary Renault, to remind myself of that. In the midst of working for and with others, we must keep a part of our work for ourselves alone, to bring us joy. My joy in finding my own voice is why I keep doing this. It’s what kept me in the chair for all the years  I did not make a sale, when I was told that it simply could not be done. It can be done. THE QUEEN’S PAWN and TO BE QUEEN  are proof.  And as I begin to dive into my work on the next novel, QUEEN OF FIRE, I remind myself of why I am doing this in the first place. I am doing it because I love it. For my own joy.

Enjoying the Moment

Monday, April 4th, 2011 | The Writing Life | 3 Comments

I have been very busy lately getting ready for my latest novel, TO BE QUEEN, to be released. Tomorrow is the day, and I am taking a moment to be grateful.

All of you writers know how hard it is to get words on paper…and then the process of finding an agent and making a novel shine while working with an editor are paths that contain their own difficulties and rewards. But then the day finally comes when the book will hit the shelves.

I have finally reached that day with TO BE QUEEN, and I am going to savor it.

This, too, is the writing life, seeing your book reach the readers it is intended for. I am grateful for every single person who has read and who will ever read my books. That is where we are all trying to go…we are all hoping to get our stories into the hands of the readers who will love them,  readers who may even love our characters the way we love them. Tomorrow is the day that begins to happen for the latest installment of my Eleanor saga.

It is one of the most profound joys of my life. Thank you to everyone who will be part of that, all the bloggers and reviewers who work so hard to spread the word, to all my friends on Facebook, and to every person who will pick up TO BE QUEEN and begin to read.

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