Blogs

It’s all about the process

I’ve been having a running email conversation with my editor about process, how we go about our daily task of getting words on the page in some semblance of order.

When I first started, I hired an editor who kept asking me about my storyboard. I did not know what she was talking about so of course I Googled it and was horrified she expected me to use one. She wanted me to plot out each chapter, on sticky notes, so that I had an outline of sorts, that would propel me through the story from beginning to end. I tried, I really did but it is not my thing. I fired her soon after.

I work in reverse, from end to beginning. I come up with an ending, and a theme, create the characters to fit it, using a character guide that helps me build a persona, including traits, idiosyncrasies, family trees, emotional or physical wounds, strengths, weaknesses, etc. Once those are developed, I go to the page. And write. I’m never sure what’s going to spill out. I have a direction, sure, but take whatever path pops up along the journey. I might hear something on the news that ties in to the storyline, read a book that inspires a different slant, (It’s how I came to include Rumi in Clutch Hit), watch a documentary, or a biography. I stay open to signs, and depend on my intuition to bring the characters to life.

Music is a huge part of my process. When I was writing League of Her Own, I listened to a lot of Brazilian styles and it put me in a Brazilian frame of mind so when Rique took Fiona dancing, I could feel they way he should be moving. When writing Clutch, I switched to Cuban music. I have grown to love it.

Spontaneity is the part I love about writing. Every morning I get up, do my thing and go right to write. I never know what’s going to come out, or where the story will go that day. If I had to plot out every chapter, I’d miss a whole lot of good stuff I didn’t know was inside of me.

Every one has a process. Mine might be just a little bit out of the ordinary but then…so am I.

 

National Days…

I bought a calendar at the end of last year that serves me well. It is a one-stop glance for those days when I’m wondering what to post on Facebook.

A few years ago, when I was still in the childcare field as assistant director, I would always add a piece of history or a tidbit of interest to the break and lunch schedule I made out each day. It made it more interesting for me, and hopefully for the teachers as well. I’d check on-line for those odd holidays that might add some spice to a very boring task. I found the website for national days and loved the variety they offered. Some of them were off limits, like National Nude Sunbathing Day, but some fit well, like Talk Like a Pirate Day. Everyone at the school would mimic those scoundrels from the past, with an “Aye, matey.” or “Batten down those hatches.”

The national day calendar still serves me well because it dovetails with some of the my books, and the characters in them, so I can add a bit of marketing along with the post. Today it’s I Love Horses Day and I added an excerpt from the book that spoke to Mia Fisher’s love for her stallion.  She’s one of the women in my Fire and Ice series who grew up on a farm in a small town close to where I lived as a kid. It’s her passion, something she’s relegated to “when I find the time” pile. Only when she goes back, and she renews herself, is she able to give her husband another chance at Rekindling the Fire.

I loved writing about the animals, because I have an innate love for them. I’ve taken lessons, watched them galloping around a field, and have breathed in their grace as they munched grass in a meadow.  My father happens to own a horse farm near Ocala Florida and the most peaceful times in my life have been spent there. It was pure joy to include them in Mia’s story and I hope I did them justice.

 

Check it out…

I have a new website page and I am excited for all of you to see it. The wine’s gone, and in its place is a coffee cup…much more me. (I spend a couple of hours everyday at KJ’s Caffe) The typewriter remains. My son gave me a ceramic model in my Christmas stocking, after I told him it was my dream and it has become a symbol of my writing life. The crumpled paper signifies how much editing is needed when you give your all to a story. Some days it flows as effortlessly as lava, some days it doesn’t flow at all. Those are the days I keep reminding myself to stay at the page and keep typing. There is usually something worthwhile that comes from it and that’s the part you save and build on.

My partner in this endeavor is wonderful and I feel like I’ve connected with a kindred spirit. She’s awesome to work with and is becoming a friend. If you’re looking for tech support, give Colleen at Stargazer Sales a call. You won’t regret it.

I had supper with a friend of mine last night who made some suggestions about blog content and I’m going to give one of them a try. My books are written around relationships. Women friendships, male bonding, family interactions, and characters who grow along the way.

We all need connections, harmony and support. I receive  that from my friends, and my family is an integral part of my life. These are the personal spaces from which I draw my inspiration when developing characters. The Scalera’s are Italian, and many of the stories within the stories come from my own experiences. Sunday dinners, Italian sticks and cannoli, cavatelli, red sauce, braciola, and a matriarch who holds the family together. The Woodley and Fisher law firm was built by strong women with causes, with expertise, with heart. It is the deep friendship between them that propels the series and is the foundation for their successes.

I’m in the process of delving into baseball, the players and the women who come into their lives. It’s more about those relationships than the sport itself but the boys of summer have been a part of my life since I was a kid and I thought it would be fun to create histories for the Greenliners, an imaginary team making a run for the World Series.

As you can see on my website, the second book League of Her Own will be out sometime next month.

 

 

Spring Has Finally Arrived…

…in New England. As I sit writing, the temperature outside has reached the 60 degree mark and the sun is shining. It’s such a nice reprieve from another rainy April that we thought would never end. Now, when I watch the Red Sox play, (Boston’s baseball team for anyone not in the know), I see pitchers back to short sleeves and the outfielders no longer wearing neck warmers.

The next few books in my Greenliners baseball series were timed so that I could enjoy watching the boys of summer with a two-pronged purpose: love of the game and to fuel my imagination with play-by-plays.

My first in the series, Thrown for a Curve, was meant to be a stand alone, but as I was writing about Izabella’s brother, I began to envision a life for him, in Boston, as part of the Greenie’s run for a World Series win. League of Her Own is Enrique’s story and I found the perfect woman for him in Fiona Barrows. He thinks she’s staying at his sister’s to house sit and walk her dog Hoover. As she barges into his life, dripping wet from being hit by a puddle, he nicknames her Fifi. He thinks it suits her. That is until he finds out what she really does for a living.

When Fiona begins to keep Rique company in his self-imposed isolation, she is embarrassed by her ignorance about the game he loves. Wanting to learn all she can, she reaches out to a couple of experts who teach her all she wants to know, from the various types of pitches there are, to the lingo that might help her understand the foreign language. (And she doesn’t mean the Portuguese the Brazilian speaks.)

The following is some of the terminology she picked up and words or phrases you’ll find throughout the series.

Error: when a player misplays the ball and allows runners to advance rather than fielding it correctly and getting the out.

Boys of Summer: Baseball players

Farm team: Minor league affiliates

Grapefruit League- teams that play exhibition games during spring training before the season officially begins.

Spring Training: preseason period when baseball players get ready for the big league. (It’s try-out time for those invited to participate.)

Walk-off: when a hit ends a game.

Beanball: a ball pitched at a batter’s head, usually intentionally. (Fiona is stunned that Reid Jackson, Izabella’s husband and male lead in TFAC, has done it on more than one occasion, just because a batter hugged the plate.)

It’s been a long time…

…since I’ve written and I’m beginning to understand why I’ve become lax with this one particular task.

I’m not good at small talk and if I had to label myself the tag would read introvert.

I never really knew this about myself. Only over the last couple of weeks, since writing about a scientist who is unskilled in many social contexts, have I learned what the term means and how it applies to me.  It doesn’t mean that I’m pre-occupied with myself to the exclusion of everything else, or that I like being alone all day without conversation and stimulation. I love meeting new people, I enjoy being challenged by new things. I need to feel a part of life to be productive.

The problem is when I’m in the midst of a large group of people with no script, I wither, shrivel up and retreat into a shell.

When I first started this blog, I thought I could do a weekly “fireside chat” only to find myself in front of the computer with nothing of value to say.  How many times could I talk about my books, the development of characters, or recommend books that I’ve read that are worth passing on. Blog writing is all about the small talk, chatting with people out there about a variety of subjects. I’m more into ideas, prefer one-on-one with friends.  I’m neither shy nor socially awkward, I just don’t like talking about nothing. for the sake of talking. It actually hurts.

I’m going to make the effort to find subjects that interest me, topics that I’m passionate about and then pretend I’m having a face-to-face conversation with a dear friend. Maybe then I can make this a weekly occurrence.

Please bear with me as I learn to own this new perspective of myself.