Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lazy Days of Summer and Fall Resolutions

Wow, what a crazy summer! Between taking my oldest to Sudbury for the 2010 Ontario Summer Games, working, keeping my kids amused and trying hard to get some writing done, summer is nearly gone. The leaves are starting to fall for heaven's sake!

On the plus side, Fall brings me more time to write. My work schedule will be more routine this year and the kids will all be at school. At our HWG meeting Sunday, someone asked how many books I've written. I couldn't give her an exact number. I ballparked it at ten. Sounds about right. This year, however, they are almost ready to go.

Ready for what? Ready to be polished and queried. I have one that is ready, The Secret Life of the Bookstore Lady. The next book in that "series" is called Date with a Dead Guy. It still needs some edits and a good query letter. Once it's older sister is gone, it'll be close behind. The third book, Padded Walls, I have to take another look at. When they do get published, I will be indebted to my wonderful editor Laura LaRocca forever!

But before I get into all the intensive edits and rewrites, I'm taking a vacation.
My brain is distracted by a new story that won't leave me alone. This one takes place in the southern US where I plan to go soon. Nothing like a little research! I'll give you more details later and maybe even post a chapter.

In the meantime, if you are on Facebook, check out the new HWG site! My friend RichardGoodship set it up and it's already getting a few members. Just search for Headwaters Writers Guild and you'll find us!

Enjoy what's left of summer!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Roads We Travel and Towns we Build

I'm going to Sudbury this week for the Ontario Youth Summer Games. My oldest son is competing and I am taking the opportunity to do some research. One of my novels has a section that takes place in Sudbury and, so far, I've been stuck researching vicariously via the internet and maps. Now I get the opportunity to go there and see it for myself.

There is something to be said for accuracy. When you create your own little town, like I have for my series, you can build and remove whatever you want. When you use a real city or town, like Sudbury, you have to remain true to what is there. Of course, if you want to use your creative license to build an imaginary building on an empty lot that's your own perogative.

Creating a whole new world for your characters isn't always easy. I've had to map it out since more than one book takes place there. And I still make mistakes! For towns in the real world, Google Earth and Google Maps can be your best friends. (Aside from going there in person.)

Have fun playing and building new worlds as well as new characters. Look what it did for J.K. Rowling.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hearing Voices

I haven't had a lot of time to write anything over the past week. My job in the real world has a bad habit of caging the little voices that compel me to write and stifling them. I have to force myself to think in a linear fashion, not in my usual whirlwind of creativity. The job I currently have, however, introduces me to characters that even I could not make up. When my friends say those "characters" are stereotypes, I beg to argue. I've met them! They're real.

Do I really hear voices? Technically, no. But I do get whole scenes, lines and even stories flashing through my head. Some are gone before I can write them down, but others haunt me until I do and insist they be given their own life.

Remember way back when to a show called "The Facts of Life"? Mindy Cohn's character Natalie Green was a writer and insisted that she needed to work a variety of jobs in order to get to meet people and gain experience in the "real world". The one that comes to mind is when she drove a hearse. I can't say I have ever driven a hearse, but I have held a variety of jobs and met a variety of people.

Watching and talking to people is one of the best ways to find characters. Or to make composites of characters. It's like mixing paint. You take one part of Aunt Minnie, two parts of your good friend Sandy and a dab of Uncle Sal and get my wonderful character named Mimsy Lexington. Okay, just and example. I really don't know who Mimsy is a composite of, but she's a fun character to get to play with!

Characters appear everywhere and in everyone. Your boss, your spouse, your kids, the old lady who lives across the back alley and keeps rabbits in her garage . . . even parts of yourself that you would rather no one know about. The one who hears the voices.