Posts tagged ‘Before the Applause’

Where Do You Find Creative Inspiration?

English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade...

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At every book signing, one of the questions I can always count on being asked is: “Where do you get the idea for your books?”.

My books, much to my publisher’s chagrin, do not follow the current popular trends.  If they did, I would no doubt be a more successful author.  Instead, I follow my heart.  My characters all have a basis in reality.  Some are even modeled after friends (names have been changed to protect the innocent, she says with a smile and a wink).

I also find inspiration for characters and situations in the news.  The short story that recently ran on my website was about a man who worked on oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.  Currently, I am writing a story about a soldier on leave in Paris. 

Inspiration can come from anywhere, if you let it.  Anything from a song to a movie to the weather can be the spark for a story.  Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein during a cold and dreary summer in Switzerland.  Had the weather been better, would we have had one of the greatest monster in literature?

Imagination is also a contributor to creative inspiration.  Without imagination, Jules Verne would not have pioneered the science fiction genre, and without science fiction would man have dreamed of going into space or exploring the oceans?

Over the years, there has been a mellowing toward certain characters as well.  Anne Rice took the feared vampire and turned him into a tragic romantic figure.  Stephanie Meyers took it a step further and made her character Edward Cullen a sex symbol.

So, my fellow writers, think for a moment.  Where do you get the inspiration for your books?  Share your thoughts here; inquiring minds want to know.


If You Write It, They Will Come

Pile of Books in Prague Library

But will they stay until the last page?

Most of the time I buy a book because: a) it was on a Best Seller list; b) it was recommended by someone on TV or radio; c) it was recommended by a friend.  Unfortunately, a lot of those times I was disappointed by the story and tossed the book into my “to be finished much, much later” pile.  This doesn’t mean I have anything against the author, it just means I have different taste.  I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way about my books.

Do you finish all the books you start reading? Inquiring minds want to know.

A Loss for Words

I have been staring at the computer screen for nearly an hour trying to find the words to say.  Blogging used to be easy.  A thought came to me, I wrote it down, hit the Publish button and it was done.

Lately, however, I find my mind wandering.  Not the kind of wandering that one needs to panic and see a doctor about; just the every day lack of concentration.  I stare out the window and think about all the things I could be writing about, yet when it comes to writing them, the thoughts are all gone.  Sometimes they come back – usually in the middle of the night when I’m too tired to get up and go to the computer.  Sometimes it’s gone forever (this usually happens with the really good ideas).

My husband tells me that it’s a sign to slow down and enjoy life more.  Maybe he’s right.  I worked on my latest novel – Before the Applause – every spare moment I had, all the while working an average of fifty hours a week. 

So I ask you, gentle readers, how do you cope with your writer’s block?

My Idea of Perfect Weather

I have always enjoyed the late spring into early summer time best. The trees and flowers are in full bloom, and the air is warm and sweet.

A lot of times, I use the seasons to mirror the mood of the characters in my books. If everything is bright and sunny in the plot, then so is the weather. When things are not going well for the main characters,  it is raining or snowing. I find this adds a little something extra to give the story depth. After all, who could be in a bad mood when the sun is shining and the air is filled with the scent of flowers! You can see this in action in my new novel Before the Applause, available now at Amazon and Barnes&Noble online.

I am not the only writer to use this ploy. Mary Shelley got the idea for her classic Frankenstein story from the unusually bad weather. I’m not sure that I could ever go so far as to write a horror story like that, but I will definitely keep using the weather as a (pardon the pun) barometer for my characters’ moods in the future.

Do you have a favorite season? Inquiring minds want to know!

Romance for the Real World?

What’s wrong with wanting to write a real romance story? 

I have been writing them since I was in the fifth grade (the usual tween story about first love back then, of course).  Nowadays, I write the sort of romance story where a person can really see herself as the heroine. I call it “Romance for the Real World”.

I can hear my publisher groan every time I send in a manuscript. They dutifully read it and then remind me that if I want to be famous I should write what is popular right now. Sorry, I tell them, I don’t write like that. Eventually, after much haggling, they begrudgingly agree to sign a contract.

Now, I have nothing against paranormal, erotica, historical, or any other genre. I read and enjoy them all! I just believe that there are readers who look for more realism in the story. 

Like my new novel, Before the Applause. It is a prequel to my first novel, Macy, telling the story of a nine-year-old girl who has been on the receiving end of her father’s temper and abuse too many times. Young Johnny McElroo, who becomes her guardian, takes her in after she escapes from her father’s clutches. Together, they embark on an unforgettable journey to new beginnings where they find their wishes all come true.

It takes just as much if not more to write a romance novel that touches on real life, more than a purely fictional novel. I found it very difficult to write some of the early scenes (my keyboard has tearstains to prove it).  But, if the women who write this brand of story face criticism for not writing a more popular romance novel, we will accept that criticism and keep on writing it as long as people keep reading it.

From Diary to Publication

You can throw some things away especially if they get old and smelly; but all those journals and diaries you kept as a kid just might turn out to be gold.

Come on, I’m sure there are a few people out there who still have a locked diary containing an entry about that first kiss.Perhaps there is a corsage with a special memory pressed between the pages. Even some of you guys out there keep a journal of your daily events. As for me, I started keeping a diary way back in third grade. And yes, I still have it too.

Growing up, my mom could not understand the time I spent writing in the marble notebook that I kept hidden under my pillow. If I had a dime for every time she said, “Why are you wasting your time …” I’d be rich. Anyway, I continued to write. I would write poetry, short stories, paste pictures, or quote other people’s works that I found inspiring. I’d even write down the lyrics of songs that moved me in some way. I also enjoyed writing love stories. In high school, my friends would ask me to write a little romantic tale of them with their latest squeeze. Funny, it got to the point where even guys were coming up to me and asking me to write down their exploits. (Maybe that’s how I learned to write erotica?)

 In 1989, my darling hubby (boyfriend at the time) happened upon me writing one day while we were vacationing in Italy. As he read my interpretation of the past few days, including our steamy midnight activities, I expected him to start laughing at any moment. After all, he is not the mushy, romantic type of man. But he didn’t laugh. In fact, he thought it was rather good. “Not Jane Austen, but it’s a page turner,” I think were his exact words.

Inspired by this review, I began writing more and more short stories. As each new idea popped into my head, I jotted the thought onto paper. There were times, over the next ten years, when I had four or five stories in various stages of completion. I would write them in longhand on the train on the way to work, on planes when my work took me far from home. Eventually, they were painstakingly transcribed onto my computer.

Then, in 2005, I was on disability for an extended period. I spent a lot of time reading my stories, adding to them, reworking some of the plots. As I worked on one in particular, the story of a character who had been near and dear to my heart for many years, I began to wonder if it could be published. Having a book published had always been a dream of mine, but none of my stories had ever been complete enough. Perhaps it was time to complete one.

By 2006, I had the 145,283-word manuscript for the story about my favorite character, Macy. At the end of writing this slightly paranormal romantic novel, I knew that some of the secondary characters deserved to have their own stories; thus the birth of a miniseries. iUniverse Publishing offered me a contract in 2007 and Macy was released later that year. Before the Applause is scheduled for release in the fall of 2010, and If I Should Love Again in 2012.

My advice to anyone who thinks they might want to write a book … never throw a diary or a journal away; you never know where it might take you.

Where Do You Get Your Characters From?

 Someone asked me yesterday, in line at the grocery store of all places, where do you come up with the characters for your books?

“Here”, I replied, with a smile. “There. Everywhere.”

I’ve based characters I’ve met at my local mall (now that’s a goldmine!), neighbors, friends, celebrities, even family members. Sometimes a character can have traits–both physical and emotional–in several people who I know. And sometimes a character might come straight from my imagination, like Macy Sinclair in my latest novel, Before the Applause, which is due out this fall.

As writers, where do you come up with your characters? And, readers, do you like it when an author fully describes and fleshes out a character for you in a story or do you prefer that the author leave some of the details to your imagination?

Inquiring minds want to know!

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