To me, the best time to be a writer is before you sit down and write the story. I have taken to calling this the “honeymoon” period. Like a true honeymoon, it is a time of fun and joy and endless promise for a writer.
I been in this fun stage lately with a new historical romance series I am brainstorming. This is such an enjoyable time, because the story ideas are flowing and anything seems possible. The moment when all of the ideas start coalescing into a plausible story is magical. The ideas start flowing even faster then, which amps up my energy and enthusiasm to write.
One could compare this to the moment in a wedding reception when you look at the happy young couple sharing their first dance and see their loving future glowing bright in their eyes. Later, when the laughing, excited couple runs to their car under a hail of rice to depart for their honeymoon, it lifts everyone around them. Somehow, you know they will have a great time on their trip and a wonderful life together afterward. This produces an extra level of energy in everyone waving good-bye.
This is similar to the energy I get when dreaming up a new story. I suppose this zeal is intentional on my muse’s part. I will need this enthusiasm to carry me through the months of writing the first draft. In a marriage, once the honeymoon is over, it takes hard work and perseverance to keep the marriage healthy and moving forward. So it is with a new story. Sitting in front of the keyboard and typing the thousands of words necessary to keep the story moving forward is not nearly as much fun as partying somewhere exotic.
So for now, I will enjoy the honeymoon. The real work of marrying an idea to my writing is yet to come. But I know I can make this relationship work, and get to that golden moment when I am able to type “The End” on what could be considered my story’s first anniversary. When that day comes, I will invite you to the “anniversary dinner” to celebrate it with me.
In the meantime, check back to this blog for updates on my writing journey as I return from story honeymoon and get back to the hard work of making my writing marriage a success.
I have another friend I would like to spotlight in my blog this week. I met Sara Dahmen (www.saradahmen.com) through our writing group. If I were creating a list of modern day Renaissance women, I would have to add her to the list. In addition to being a writer of adult and children’s books, she is also an artist, an artisan, and an entrepreneur. I don’t know how she finds the time to do it all, given she is also the mother of three small children, but she does all this plus is very involved in several organizations related to writing and books. And she is a genuinely nice person to boot.
Some of you may be thinking her name sounds familiar. Sara is the person who, while wearing her artisan metalsmith hat, created a custom cookie cutter for my mom. I don’t have a photo of the cutter yet to share with you, but do have something even better. Below are some photos of the hand-made copper cooking products Sara sells through her company (http://housecopper.com/) as well as through a network (http://www.housekeepercrockery.com/) she formed to include craftsmen selling hand-made cookware in various forms.
If you value quality, hand-made cookware which hearkens back to an earlier century, then I think you will enjoy this. Settle back and admire what can happen when people strive to preserve our past. (Oh, and if you are thinking about Christmas presents, you could do worse than follow a link to one of her websites. Hint to my husband.) I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do.
It is time again for “If These Walls Could Talk.” In honor of Halloween later this month, I decided to share a picture of a house which certainly looks as though it could be haunted.
This appears to have been a large, lovely home at one time. But unfortunately, it hasn’t been that for years. It has definitely fallen on hard times. Now, I think we are more likely to see a ghost flitting in and out the windows than to see a corporeal human walking in the front door.
What sort of ghosts do you think would live here? When I look at this picture, I hear children laughing as they run through the halls. I visualize a family gathering around a large table to share the events of their day while they eat supper. I would like to think any spirits present are happy residuals of the families who once lived here.
Even though it is overgrown and barely standing, there is still something about this house which to me is more hopeful than haunted. I get the sense this house is wishing someone would rescue it from its current disrepair and make it a happy home again.
What do you see when you look at this house? Does it speak to you, or is it too far gone for that? I am wondering what you think this house would say, If These Walls Could Talk.
If you want to see some of the previous buildings used, you can find earlier blogs on my website. Also, if you have any suggestions for future buildings to blog about, I would love to hear from you. http://www.karenmarcam.com/contact.html
When trying to select a topic this week, I considered – for half a second – writing about my favorite romance authors. However, the idea only lasted for half a second because 1) I would surely miss someone, and 2) I wouldn’t want to offend the ones who didn’t make it on the list. So I won’t name my favorite authors. But I can tell you what I look for in stories.
This is where it all starts. (I know, for some of you this is probably so obvious, you are fighting the urge to roll your eyes. Bear with me.) I don’t care where she is from or what trendy occupation she has or about the color of her hair. I do care that she is a likeable person. I want to have a reason to care about what happens to her. I want her to have some spunk, even if she might not realize it yet. Blindly naïve, doormats or TSTL need not apply.
I have a similar list for the heroes. He doesn’t have to be a Seal or a billionaire. But I hope he has enough internal strength to know the right thing to do and be willing to do it, even if he grumbles the whole time. In a historical, I want a man willing to take on a gang of outlaws or to do whatever he must to protect his clan. In a contemporary, I want a man who will stand up to the town bully and will also stand for the flag. And he needs to have (or learn) patience when the heroine as at the end of her rope. Bonus points if he helps her (even grudgingly) tie a knot to hang on.
This has to be believable, too. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m willing to suspend a little disbelief, especially when the genre clearly calls for it. And if there is a huge plot twist, a good writer has already laid the groundwork to make it seem plausible. Beyond that, the specifics of the plot are less important. Give me a believable conflict and characters who must grow and struggle to get through it and I’m happy. Characters simply talking about their problems through an entire story make me yawn. Improbable events inserted to take the story in a certain direction make me want to throw the book against the wall. But for an author who does a good job setting up the plot, I will happily follow characters on a cross-country quest or watch them battle their own demons. .
An author does not need to load a book with a lot of details to make me happy. A small sprinkling is sufficient, if the author gets them right. There are some authors who, with only a word or two, can convey a setting or an emotion or make you feel as though you just learned something about another place or time. These are the ones I enjoy. Conversely, wildly improbable details are probably what make me want to throw a book against the wall the quickest. If a story takes place on a farm, have the characters actually get dirty, and have them work longer hours than 9:00 – 5:00. If a story takes place in the mountains in winter, I hope the character will be dressed for the weather.
This is a quick summary of what I am looking for in a story. Is your list similar? I suppose most of us are looking for essentially the same thing. We all want to find a great storyteller who will keep us engrossed in a story long past the time we should put it down and go to sleep.
I write historical romances, and I invite you to share the journey to published author with me.