Wednesday, December 28, 2011

That Fine Line Between Being "Overly Sensitive"...And Something Else

I scanned nervously from side to side, my heart racing, my breaths shallow. Anger, frustration, and despair had seized the room. Like a one-hundred pound weight, its ringleader, Negativity, pressed down on my chest squeezing every last breath from my heaving lungs. Panicked, I looked for the exits. There were two, one in front of me and one behind. Oh, how I longed to run. To bolt! To flee from this oppressive atmosphere of negative energy. I wanted to hug each of my co-workers and say, “I completely understand your frustrations. Believe me, I do. But you don’t understand…if I have to endure one more second of this emotional rollercoaster ride, I’m going to rip out of my skin.”

Even though the work-related unpleasantness happened years ago, I vividly remember how uncomfortable the meeting made me feel, and I wasn’t even one of the people on the front lines, so to speak. I came home from work that day exhausted and depleted, pushed through the front door, hugged my children, and cried, “I don’t ever want to go through that again!” My husband told me to “toughen up,” that “these were desperate times.” But fear not. The current state of the economy is not what I’d like to discuss.

What I’d like to talk about...is energy.

I’ve always been affected by it, be it positive or negative. “You’re too emotional!” people have told me. “You cry far too easily!” Sighs. There might be something to that. I mean, there was that one time I sobbed while watching an episode of Meerkat Manor (drops head to chest) with my husband. Yeah, I’ll never live that one down. Suffice it to say, it involved the death of Romance, one of the lead Meerkats. And yes, her name really was Romance (sigh followed by another headshake).

But I'm talking about more than just crying easily. I'm talking about feeling completely uncomfortable, literally overwhelmed emotionally, in certain situations…most of which involve large groups of angry people. In my experience, when you put yourself in those types of settings one of two things will happen. You’ll either feed into the anger and become incensed yourself…or run from it screaming. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m a “run from it screaming” kind of gal. I loathe confrontation. Don’t get me wrong. My temper flares up just like everyone else's, but I’m not one to hold a grudge. I quickly make peace with whatever is bothering me and set it free. Why? Because... I. Don’t. Like. Feeling. Angry.

But that’s not the most frustrating part. I can control my own anger. It’s thwarting off other people’s negative energy that I find most exhausting. Perhaps that’s why I’m always the girl who starts conversations in rooms filled with perfect strangers. All that anxious energy chokes me. It’s like, “Good Lord, someone say something. Please!” Or like when I was in college and some poor professor would throw a question out to the class only to hear the sound of crickets chirp back. I’d look around the auditorium pleadingly. Someone? Anyone?! After about sixty seconds of nothing, accented by a look of despair on the professor’s face, my hand would shoot up. "Exponentiation may be generalized by using integer exponents!" (Leans in) Just for the record, I have no idea what that even means.


Bottom line? This “connection” to other people’s emotional well-being is really quite exhausting. Of course, it took me many years to realize it had a name. (Counts on fingers) Thirty-nine to be exact. If you buy into the theory, you’re known as an emotional empath if you’re overly sensitive and highly tuned into other people’s emotional states.

There are many examples of empathic characters in literature, but my absolute favorite has to be John Coffey from Stephen King’s 1996, The Green Mile. An example of magical realism, The Green Mile showcases Coffey, a death row inmate who exhibits inexplicable healing and empathic abilities. Sure there’s something supernatural about Coffey, this is King we’re talking about, but strip away all of his magical qualities and he’s most definitely empathic.

I see that look in your eyes. You’re thinking, “Good Lord, the woman believes she’s got magical powers!” Wait. (Waggles an index finger in the air) Pardon me as I chuckle. Loudly. Although John Coffey will always be one of my favorite characters, I realize he’s just that, a fictional character in a made up story, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea of being empathic. I think you know where I stand; I simply don't know. I always over analyze things. It's what I do. But I'm more interested in what you have to say. Do you believe that someone can actually be an emotional empath, or is it more a case of certain people just being overly sensitive and needing to “toughen up”?

As always, all points of view are welcome. Just please, whatever you do...keep it positive, lol!


Also, here's my favorite "John Coffey" scene from The Green Mile. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pursuing the Impossible Romance

It’s a theme that’s been sucking me in for as far back as I can remember. Even though I’m only 42, I grew up watching the classics. My favorites were, and still are, the old black and whites. There’s just something about them that draws me in. Sure the acting is completely over the top, but the romance…  ohhhhhhhhhhhhh the romance. Yes, yes. I was born in the wrong era. Except that I like this era...most of the time. I know, I know—I’m a walking contradiction. That being said, I’m a HUGE fan of “gazing into each other’s eyes”, “gentle kisses to the forehead”, and “tons of sexual tension”.

            Have I mentioned that I LOVE sexual tension?

(Fans herself) Watch five minutes of ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Yup. That’s romance. Then again, there’s always the famous “phone scene” from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Okay, (braces herself) now I’m swooning. But my all time favorite B&W love story has to be ‘Now, Voyager’, the 1942 classic starring Bette Davis and Paul Henreid. Talk about a romance. You go, Charlotte Vale! Sigh. I think I’ve watched that movie 100 times.

My fascination with doomed love, wasted passion, and lost potential isn’t limited to just movies, either. I'm a writer, for Pete's sake! I read books...lots of books. And yes, I loved Wuthering Heights despite isn’t insane point of view (follow along, now): newcomer Lockwood narrates the entire novel as if it’s a diary entry as told to him by Nelly, the servant girl? (Scratches head) That’s what I said. But it’s dark and foreboding and—yeah, I loved it. I think it’s the only novel I’ve ever read where I despised every single character, yet still loved the story as a whole. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. As is true of any great novel, Wuthering Heights deeply affected me. Weeks after I finished reading it, I found myself still wanting to smack each one of the characters upside the head. Multiple times.

 Yeah, great book.

The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer-Bradley’s 1983 reworking of the Arthurian epic is also on my short list. What can I say? As a reader, the impossible romance draws me in. It’s really that simple. And since we, as human beings, are a culmination of our life experiences, the same holds true for me as a writer, as well. Work in my fascination with the paranormal and, well…have I mentioned that Courting the Flame comes out in June, 2012?

The opinions expressed above are solely those of Diana DeCameron.
Opposing viewpoints are welcome.
Translation? Feel free to comment, folks. 


Don't let's ask for the moon...Bette Davis, Now, Voyager

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Ripple Effect

Tap, tap, tap. I turn my head. To my left, silvery beads trickle down the windowpane. Another cold October rain, I smile easing away from my computer desk, the howling north winds adding the perfect accompaniment to the shower’s irregular tempo. I close my eyes and try to tap along—a flood of creativity wrapped up in each drip, drip, drop.

Water has always inspired me, be it icy pond, ocean wave, or fog-blanketed landscape. Even mundane acts like washing dishes or taking a shower move me creatively. But of all the water-related activities I’ve been involved with, skipping stones is, by far, the most inspiring. My theory is that it has something to do with the way the sunlight dances on the rippling water.

It's a known fact that clairvoyants have long used the reflection of the sun on water to produce visions. Not that I’m clairvoyant. At least I don’t think so. But I do know that whenever I break the surface tension of water, ideas seem to float up from the ripples. It’s almost as if they were lying there all along just waiting for someone to set them free. Next thing I know, my brain is flooded with new scenes, snappy dialogue, and the sudden desire to race up to my computer room and—

Pitter, patter. Pitter, patter.

Another downpour. I gently rub at the now steam-covered glass, silvery rivulets peaking back at me from the other side. With my head pressed firmly against the cold wet glass, I pause to soak up the magic. The smile is automatic—attached to the realization that, moments later, I’ll be back in front of my computer desk with my feet planted firmly on the ground and my fingers hovering just above the keys.

Tap, tap. Drip, drop, patter.

“So many ideas,” I whisper to the rain. So little time, I think to myself. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Cold December Evening ...

If only you could talk, I thought of the old oak tree at the bottom of my lane. As a teenager, I considered it ancient. The perfect Halloween specimen, it towered above me stripped of all bark, leafless, and pocked with more woodpecker holes than I could count. Keenly aware of its magical qualities even at a young age, I loved to run my hands along its weathered texture and contemplate the wondrous things it might have seen. There was no question—the tree felt special to me, but it would take one very cold December evening to prove just how special.

I’d always been a quirky kid. Gravitating more toward right-brained activities, I was a bundle of untapped creative energy ready to explode. Coming from a musical family, it only made sense that I would find my singing voice first. Singing brought me great pleasure; it was an acceptable way to release some of the pent up creative energy that, even as a small child, drove me mad. As for the journey to my writing voice, I'd categorize that as more of an expedition, an ongoing expedition, but its origins can be traced back to, you guessed it, the old oak tree.

Flanked by woods on three sides and a field on the other, I grew up “nestled” in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. We didn’t skateboard when I was growing up, we trekked across cornfields to our neighbor’s house passing old barns and antiquated farm machinery along the way. It was a simple life filled with simple pleasures like the occasional high school basketball game. On this particular evening in December, I received a phone call from a friend asking if I’d like to go to the game. “Heck, yeah!” was my response. The only stipulation? I’d have to walk to the bottom of my long driveway because there was no way her car would make it up our snow packed lane.

It was the perfect winter evening, still, frigid, and quiet, the lack of sound broken up only by the crusted-over snow crumbling beneath my feet. I heaved a steam-filled sigh when I finally reached the pavement. Standing ear bent for the sound of her car, I breathed into my cupped hands then raised my eyes toward the moonlit December sky. Where is she? I jumped in place as I marveled at the intensity of the moonlight, alternating one foot then the other. And then just like that, I stopped. I stood still— completely still, frozen in place by the undeniable sensation that someone or something was watching me. I could feel eyes, their intensity bearing down as I struggled to swallow. Moving ever so slowly, I slid my eyes toward the tree … my tree, and there it was—a great horned owl sitting perched atop my perfect Halloween prototype. Its immense frame sat black against the December moon, and then without much warning it spread its enormous wings and swooped silently over my head to disappear into the tree line.

Sigh.

I will never, ever forget that experience. It was the first time I wished I could put into words what I felt in my heart … the first time a scene haunted me … the first time I longed to put down on paper what was coming to life inside my head.

It was the moment I started to think like a writer, even though it would be years before I actually put those thoughts on paper.

As for my tree, time eventually took its toll. I came home from school one day to find that a road crew had cut it down and carted it away. I got off the bus and plopped down beside the only thing that remained … an enormous stump. I won’t lie. Tears were shed. Many tears. As for the great horned owl, despite my best efforts to reconnect, it remained elusive. For years and years I searched for it. My husband and I even took our boys out “owling” one night in the hopes that I might see another great horned owl. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be … until I finally started to write Courting the Flame.

It’s strange how images stick in our brains. The image of the craggy old tree was difficult to let go. You’ll understand when you read the book. As for my great horned owl … well, we’ve finally reconnected. Each and every night when I sit down to write, it hovers just above my head. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m fairly certain that my great horned owl was also my muse, the guiding spirit that finally said, “Enough is enough, Diana. It’s time to start thinking like a writer!”
Hey … no one ever accused an owl of being unwise, right? Gotta love that owl!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chance or Fate ... You Decide!

Life experiences, they’re the building blocks of who we are. Each memory, a road traveled on that map we call life. But my question has always been … why? Why do we choose one route over another? What compels us to travel in a certain direction? It’s a question I’ve mulled around for as long as I can remember, and it’s a major theme in my writing.

Looking back at life, I’ve often wondered about my own choices. For me, the unwise decisions are often easier to explain away using words like immaturity and lack of life experience. No, it's the good choices that I find much more worthy of my contemplation. Was there a reason why I found my way to a certain job, location … person?
My existence is filled with countless examples of seemingly innocent introductions that have profoundly changed my life. Am I to believe that these meetings were mere coincidences? Should I just chalk them up to being in the right place at the right time? For those of you who haven’t figured out my M.O. by now … I’m leaning toward an emphatic NO!!!

So what kind of examples are we talking about? Well, my first chance encounter happened the day I talked to Lynda McBlain, the part-time vocal instructor at the music studio my friend insisted I call during my lunch break. I was actually calling to talk with Dr. Steven Gorton, the studio’s owner. He was very well known in the area, and my friend assured me that Dr. Gorton would be there if I called … During! My! Lunch! Break! So I did. But low and behold on this particular day, Dr. Gorton was not there … Lynda McBlain was. Two minutes into our phone conversation and I knew she was the one I was meant to work with. One month later, I was performing arias at a local talent show. On a side note, I had no idea I could sing classically until I met Lynda. Talk about a wonderful surprise.
I’ll spare you details of the numerous life-long friendships I’ve made that appeared to materialize out of thin air. Let’s not forget the “crazy” story of how I met my first editor and dearest friend Claudia Suzanne. That one still boggles my brain. Hmmmm. Come to think of it, I must remember to send a thank you note to “Camp Evanovich” some day for that one. And then there’s the day I vowed to not turn my computer on. Thankfully, I didn’t listen. That was the day I met MuseItUp Publisher, Lea Schizas. I wouldn’t be chatting with you right now if it wasn’t for that chance encounter.

In all honesty, I’ve had so many chance encounters in my lifetime, I could literally write a book. Hmmmmm. (Pauses to contemplate her last statement) Have I mentioned that my debut novel Courting the Flame comes out June, 2012??
Enough about me, though. I’d like to hear your thoughts. Do you believe in chance encounters? Do you think that two people can actually be fated to find one another? I love to read your comments, so feel free to drop me a line or two or twenty! As always, I’m anxious to hear what you have to say.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Little Kathy Kill-Joy

The year was 1978. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was out on the playground jumping rope with some other fourth grade girls when little Kathy Kill-Joy raced up with her nose held high. “Mr. Ravenport wants to see you.” She waggled her head as she spun on her heel and skipped away.

I’m sure I blinked. Several times. What could Mr. Ravenport possibly want with me?! I wondered as I started toward him. Sure, I could be chatty, but this was recess, I thought the words over and over as I trudged across the lengthening play yard. Tipping my head, I sported my best lopsided grin. “You wanted to see me, Mr. Ravenport?”
He scanned just above my head to smile at the group of girls that had followed me. “Yes, Diana,” he began, “I want to talk to you about something.” He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and directed me toward a bench. I scooted up on the hard, wooden planks. “Sweetheart … I, uhhhhh … I just thought you should know that … well … some of the other children are talking.”

“Talking? About what?!” My brain felt just as wrinkled as my forehead.
He shook his head and sighed. “Honey, they’re talking about the fact that you still believe in Santa Claus.”

Blink. Blink, blink. “Still??” I asked what I believed was a very logical follow-up question.
He pressed his lips together and shook his head a second time. “Diana,” he narrowed his eyes, “haven’t your parents told you that … there’s no such thing as Santa Claus?!”

The last part of his question rattled around my brain for a second, a minute—forever.

Yep. I’ll never forget that day. It will forever be etched in my psyche. I’d like to point out that I harbor no ill feelings toward Mr. Ravenport despite the fact that he dropped his little bombshell on me in the fourth grade. He was a good teacher, and eventually when I became a teacher, we ended up working together for a few years before he retired. I had many opportunities but never once mentioned the incident to him. Mainly because I was sure he wouldn’t remember it, but even if he did I was also sure his response would be that he was just trying to protect me.

But what does all this have to do with my journey to becoming a published author? Well, anyone who writes knows that, good and bad, our life experiences are what help to shape us as writers. Even with my lack of experience in this business, I know that. No, my point is more subtle. There was a reason why I didn’t want to let go of the idea of Santa Claus as a child, and it’s the same reason why as an adult I find myself wanting to believe in the Loch Ness monster, Big Foot, Hobbits, and Dobby the house elf. The same reason why, at age 42, I find myself fascinated by stories of ghosts, reincarnation, e.s.p., and astral projection. The same reason why, as a writer, I choose to believe that I never write alone.
Visit my computer room any night around 10PM, and I guarantee you’ll find my muse hovering just above my head. I agree to work diligently on improving my writing skills, and she agrees to help me find my scenes. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

My question is: What if?? And more importantly: Why not?!
Why do the Kathy Kill-Joy’s and Bobby Burst-Your-Bubble’s of the world take issue with my choice to believe in something greater than me?! Why must they pounce on me with their demystifying tirades using phrases like: That’s nonsense! or Don’t be ridiculous! I live a completely stable life, I assure you. Soccer mom, mother-of-two, faithful wife, teacher, believer in God ... I respectfully accept their views.
Sigh.

Why, why, why can’t they respect mine?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bass Ackwards, Anyone???

The more time I spend wearing my author’s hat, the more I realize I may have gone about this whole “writing” thing a bit backwards. Of course, this epiphany wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. Doing things “bass ackwards” is my modus operandi. It’s how I operate. Sure, I could have taken writing classes before I decided to write a novel. They would have made for a lot less red ink during those first edits. Can you say … Ouch! But where’s the fun in that?! No, I chose to learn how to write, by writing, and looking back at the past three and a half years of my life, I wouldn’t change a thing about that decision, red ink and all. In my opinion, learning on the fly is one of the most exciting parts about being an author. It’s how I’ve honed my skills (shivers with excitement). Yes. That’s right. I’ve become a writing geek. But honestly once you’ve been bitten, there’s really no turning back, at least not for this author. I’m officially obsessed.

Perhaps my opinion is skewed, though. Working as a reading teacher for 13 years can do that to you. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about teaching reluctant readers and writers, it’s this: if they’re not intrinsically motivated, you’ve got your work cut out. It just makes sense that human beings would learn best when their motivation is driven by interest or enjoyment (hence my backwards approach to writing). When the need arose, I became a human sponge and soaked up anything and everything I could to make my project the best that it could be. At the very least, I owed it to my characters. They’ve thanked me many times since then, by the way, especially Gracie my protagonist. Why just the other day she told me that …

(Clears throat) Diana? The plot?!
Yes, yes. Moving forward. Always forward. (Takes a moment to review post) Hmmm. You know what?! Upon closer reflection I’m now thinking that maybe I didn’t go about writing my novel “bass ackwards”. Upon closer reflection, I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, I wrote it precisely the way I needed to. Why? Because I’m Diana DeCameron, and that’s the way I write. Talk about your epiphany!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rattle! Rattle! Rattle!


Where in the world did that come from?!

It’s a valid question and one that my family and friends have asked many times while reading my work. It’s true, family and friends can make for a “safe” first audience. They love you and so naturally they want to love and understand everything you do. But sometimes that can be difficult, at least from my experience. I’m not talking about family members suffering through subpar work. I’m talking about loved ones feeling uncomfortable actually reading your work. You see, family members come with baggage. They “know” you, and because of that they think they know what you should be writing.
When I first announced I was working on a novel, my family just assumed it was a children’s book. Their dismay literally bounced off the walls when I informed them that it was actually a paranormal romance. But, but … you’re a mother?! You work with children?! You’re … (brace yourself for this one) funny?! All of which I’ll admit to … except the “funny” label. That one’s debatable. Just ask my husband. He has to live with me, poor soul. The fact of the matter is that it can be difficult for family and friends to separate from their connection to you, to see beyond what they think they know. And that’s why for me, at least in some instances, it’s almost easier to hand my manuscript off to total strangers than to loved ones. Total strangers tend to focus more on the plot and less on trying to analyze how or why it got into my head in the first place.

Of course, it took three long years and some pretty hefty encouragement from my editor, mentor, and dearest friend Claudia Suzanne to put an end to my internal censoring. To get to that point where, as an author, you just write whatever comes to mind without pausing to question who it might rattle? Talk about your game changer. It’s a wonderful feeling, and one that actually washed over into other parts of my life, as well. Suddenly, I found myself speaking my mind everywhere. I stood up to bullies at work. I began to question things I’d never questioned before. I formed opinions—actual opinions I never knew I had. Basically … I became an author. And once I did, everything else fell into place. My family even felt the effects of my change in mindset. Now they know to expect the unexpected, which is a pretty darn cool place for everyone to be … especially me.
Do I still have work to do in this area? Of course. Are there still people out there who might be uncomfortable with my PG-13 level of work simply because of my “labels”? I guarantee it! But I can’t worry about them right now. I’m up to my ears in book II. My characters are calling, I’ve got chapters to write, and yes—cages to … rattle, rattle, rattle.




What can I say? (Shoulder shrug) It is what it is. But I'd love to hear your opinion.    

Friday, August 19, 2011

Random socks, coffee, chocolate, and screaming metal? Seriously?! Seriously.

                I’d like to say the reason it’s taken me so long to follow up on my last blog is because I’ve been knee deep in peach cobbler. Mmmmmmmmmm. (Cue dream sequence music—record scratch) Ha, ha, ha, ha. Uhhhh, no. Actually, what I have been “knee deep” in is the creation of my second novel. I’m in the process of writing the first draft which means I’ve been eating everything in sight—minus the peach cobbler, of course, because ... well ... when would I have time to bake any? No, I’ve had to resort to eating my “other” snacks of choice: Wheat Thins, Butterfinger candy bars, brownies, strawberry milkshakes. Why??? Because that’s what I do when I write. Especially first drafts. It’s all part of the process.

                So what is my process? Well, it looks and soundsyes, “sounds” … a bit like this. From sunup to sundown, I’m “Mommy” to two precious little boys. They keep me moving. Everywhere. And at high rates of speed. In between refereeing their minute-by-minute disputes, I try to get to know my characters better. This usually happens when I’m folding clothes, whites to be specific. There’s just something about all those mismatched socks. Some of my best ideas are wrapped up in those buggers. The frustrating part is that I can’t do a darn thing with any of those wonderful ideas, those epiphanies, until approximately 10 PM later that night when both of my boys are tucked in for the evening or at least until one of them has to go to the bathroom.
               That’s when I bring a piping hot cup of coffee up to my office, plunk myself down in front of my computer, and crank up my iPod. Yes, I write to exceedingly loud music during first drafts. Music is my muse, or at least one of them and the emotions I pull from the music I listen to helps me get into the right headspace when writing difficult scenes. I always have a “soundtrack” that I write to. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t even begin to start working on novel two until I found a suitable collection of songs to accompany it.
I listen to everything from classical and opera, to screaming metal and alternative music. I know, (sighs), the screaming metal usually throws everyone off. Just being honest, folks. Actually, (suppresses a laugh) I remember a point during the writing of Courting the Flame when I was struggling with a very difficult scene. Gracie, my leading lady, was beyond upset about something, and I needed to feel her anger in order to do the scene justice. So I turned to music. Yup, I drug my 82-year-old mother along for the ride. We went to the nearest department store and I purchased a CD. Don’t look at me that way; stores still sold CD’s at that point. And I knew exactly which one I needed, too. I’d heard I’m So Sick from Flyleaf a million times on Sirius XM. Salivating like a child with an unwrapped present set before them, I ripped off the cellophane and slammed that puppy into my car's CD player. My poor mother’s eyes bugged out of her head. With a look of panic she shouted, “How in the world are you going to write with that stuff screaming in your ears?!” I politely hollered back, “Ohhhhh, but it’s perfect, Mom. Just perfect.” And it was. Emotionally, Lacey Mosley’s anger level was exactly where I needed to be.
Later that night when my kiddos went to bed, I slid into my normal routine of coffee and Wheat Thins, but on this particular evening I had a guest, Lacey Mosley’s voice screaming “I’m so sick” over and over again in my head. Maybe the reason this process works so well for me is because I’m not only a writer but I’m also a singer, same diverse background … opera to rock. Maybe it’s because I’m hypersensitive to people’s emotions. Maybe it’s just because the song rocks. For me, it doesn’t really matter why it works. I’m just happy that it does. And I’m absolutely positive that when Courting the Flame is published in June, 2012, my future readers will be, too.
Here is just a sampling of the songs that have/still do inspire me while writing. They may not be your style of music, but they work for me.



       

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blink. Blink, blink.

     I’m certain my family thought I’d lost my mind the day I casually announced my plans to write a novel. To the best of my recollection the conversation with my sister went something like this:
 
    “Hey, want some peach cobbler?" She waved a steaming dessert bowl under my nose. "I just made it.”

     “Mmmmmmmm. Smells yummy.” I graciously accepted the piping hot pastry. “Oh, and by the way,“ I took my first yummy spoonful. “Did I tell you that I’m planning on writing a novel this Summer?”
     (Blink. Blink, blink)

     Okay, so perhaps I took a little creative license with my memory. But hey … I’m a writer and this is my blog, so I’ll remember things how I want to.
     The bottom line is that the response from the rest of my family pretty much mirrored that of my sister’s. I’d enter a room, and suddenly everyone in it became afflicted with some sort of a rare nervous condition. My poor family. I tend to have that effect on them. Thankfully, their bout with twitching and silent blinking was short lived. I really do have the best family in the world. After the initial shock wore off, they quickly jumped onboard. It’s just how they operate. I needed their support, so they were there. I needed their encouragement, and they gave it. But most of all … I needed their eyeballs. They were my guinea pigs, after all … my first readers.

     At this point, I’ve lost track of how many times I've written/rewritten the first chapter to Courting the Flame. FYI, I’m a pantser: I write by the seat of my pants. It’s how I find my story. Perhaps it’s not the most efficient method of attacking a novel. I’m sure there’s merit to sitting down and plotting out your entire story before you write it. I’m sure it would save me a lot of revising in the end. But pffffffffffff … where’s the fun in that?!
     For me, writing is very much like reading. Sure I have predictions about where my story is going. But just like when I’m reading, those predictions don’t always pan out. Sometimes my characters throw me a curveball. (waggles eyebrows) I love when they do that. There have been many evenings (early mornings) when I’ve actually found myself arguing with them. “But … but … Oh my God. You can’t do that!” (sighs) What can I say? They usually win. Just like that time when Gracie, she’s my protagonist, absolutely insisted on—oh, dear … there I go again, getting ahead of myself.

     Discussions about characters are best left to another blog. Which I promise to write. Just as soon as I finish my peach cobbler.

     Blink. Blink, blink.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Who Would Have Thought ...

     If you would have asked me three years ago where I'd end up at this point in my life, soon-to-be-MuseItUp-published-author would not have been my first response. Actually, three years ago the mere thought of completing Courting the Flame seemed a bit far fetched. I mean, really ... how on Earth could I, an unpublished nobody, ever expect to be able to capture this level of story?! The kind of story that oozed from your fingertips and took over your mind? With lots of hard work, unparalleled support from family and friends, and a kick-butt editor/writing coach that settled for nothing less than my absolute best! That's how.

     And to think that it all started with a picture of Pierre-August Renoir's 1883 Dance at Bougival. Looking back, I still can't believe it. At 39 I knew I wanted ... needed to write at least one of the novels floating around in my head. It had been a lifelong dream. The only thing I didn't know was which one. And so the journey began.

     Absolutely positive that if I could find the perfect novel setting the rest of the story would fall into place, I searched and searched the universe and eventually it came back with a resounding, "Booooooston." And it sounded just like that, too. "Booooooooston." So I googled the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and they kindly sent me a wonderful packet of information. The day it arrived on my doorstep I eagerly tore it open, tilted it sideways, and poured out its contents. Yep. You guessed it: out popped a pamphlet from Boston's Museum of Fine Art featuring ...  
Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Dance at Bougival.

     And the rest, my friends, is well ... the rest of the story. But that's an entirely different blog.