Archive for August, 2011

Living in the Cave: Writing a First Draft

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 | The Writing Life | 6 Comments

A lot of my friends online and elsewhere have asked me: what do I mean by living in the Cave? Obviously I don’t actually live in the woods, or even within a hundred miles of an actual cave. So am I on a writing retreat? Have I become a hermit? The answer is yes and no.

I am still living in my normal life, but like all writers in the midst of a first draft, I have withdrawn from the world in a lot of ways. I don’t go out as much, or see as many friends, which is a definite drawback. Because even when I am not actually in the chair, my mind is going over the book I’m writing, thinking of what is going to happen next, what the major conflicts of the novel are, and how my characters find ways of resolving them. With Eleanor, these questions are usually political in nature. With my Regency romance novels, the conflicts are more personal, but always the struggles are important to the men and women involved. Other writers will understand when I say that I become completely absorbed in these conflicts, watching as my characters fight their way through them. One positive aspect of writing romance is that the problems eventually lead to a happy ending. I find myself more and more grateful for the love and joy in these novels as I write them, because with historical fiction, as in real life, love and joy do not always appear.

Even writing this, I have lost the thread of my original thought and descended into the thoughts of my novel. This post is a good example of what the Cave means to me…no matter where I am or what I am doing, I am working on the book. So though I see less of my friends and spend less time online, the work makes it all worth it. In order to write a book worth reading, my characters have to take me on a journey first. While I’m in the Cave, they tell me their story for the first time, and I do all I can to make their story come through clearly for my readers on the page. The Cave is the state of mind into which I enter where my characters and I hope to make living art.

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Cathedral State Park

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 | Video Blog Entries | No Comments

Last year, I had the joy of driving to West Virginia and taking in the beauty of their state parks. I saw deer and bears (from a distance, thank goodness), and the entire experience was one of bliss and peace. As I write in the Cave, writing my latest work in progress, I thought I would put up a video blog from a year ago. The peace and beauty of West Virginia come into the Cave with me and feed my soul even while I sit at my computer.

Books Clubs By Phone

Friday, August 5th, 2011 | Uncategorized | No Comments

I had the best time last night visiting with a book club in Raleigh, NC. And the best thing was, I didn’t have to drive to get to the meeting. I just picked up the phone, and we talked for half an hour. I felt as if I was right there in the room with them as we talked about my favorite subject in the world…you guessed it…Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Of course, we talked about more than just Eleanor. The group had just read my first novel, THE QUEEN’S PAWN, so it was a lot like visiting family or dear friends that I hadn’t seen in awhile. Since TO BE QUEEN came out in April, most group discussions have been about Eleanor and her early life, but last night, we got to explore the issues raised by THE QUEEN’S PAWN: character motivation and the influence of point of view, love of mother for daughter and mother for son. We talked about Princess Alais and her wild times with Henry II, about the princess’ relationship to the king as it compared to her relationship with Richard and Eleanor. The group asked great questions and had insights into my novel that made me take a look at it from a new perspective. And for a writer, that is a wonderful thing. I love it when readers show me things about my work that I had not seen before. Even a project that took three years to write, when seen through new eyes, can yield new treasure. Thank you to Laura and her lovely group.

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