Sunday, August 31, 2008

Which Jane Austen Character are you?

My wonderful friends and fellow bloggers Kristal and Elana posted this quiz on their blogs. Which character are you? Apparently, I am Marianne Dashwood :)

I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

The description is: You are impulsive, romantic, impatient, and perhaps a bit too brutally honest. You enjoy romantic poetry and novels, and play the pianoforte beautifully. To boot, your singing voice is captivating. You feel deeply, and love passionately.

Mostly true, I guess :) Except for the singing voice...that one, not so much. I always kind of thought myself more of an Elinor Dashwood, with a little of Marianne thrown in. :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Insanity of Writers

Quote for the day: "I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity." Edgar Allen Poe

You know, there is reason this blog is called what it is :) It is something my writer friends and I discuss frequently...the insanity of our calling. We hear voices, we stay up for days at a time so we can furiously type away at our keyboards, the story battering its way out of our minds whether we want it to or not; we mutter to ourselves about our storylines, characters, plots, and chapters as we do the daily chores we must, and we are oblivious to the chaos that ensues when we are so wrapped up in our imaginary worlds that the real world ceases to exist.

Until I found my fabulous friends on Querytracker (and then RallyStorm) I was pretty sure I was the only one that couldn't sleep at night because my characters were too busy arguing in my head. It's good to know I'm not alone. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs and never have...but as I began my first novel, I suddenly had a clear insight into why so many writers are dependent on such things. Most writers I know are, at the very least, huge fans of Tylenol PM or some other sort of sleep aid - often it is the only way to quiet your mind long enough to get some sleep. :)

Writing is a crazy, frustrating, agonizing, nerve-wracking way to live (and don't even get me started on querying - that's a weeks worth of posts all by itself!)...but it also has brought me more joy and sense of accomplishment than anything else I have ever done (with the exception of my children). Most of us don't write merely because we want to...we do it because we HAVE to. There is nothing like writing the perfect scene; or spending a year editing a book to realize it is finally "good enough" (never perfect...nope, there is always something I find that could use some changing).

Bottom line, as crazy as I sometimes feel, I would never want to do anything else. My "long intervals of horrible sanity" are merely waiting periods until another idea strikes and I can dive head long into my "insanity." And ahhh, it's a grand experience!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Blog Chain - Where do my ideas come from?

I have recently joined a group of awesome writer friends in a Blog Chain. A topic is chosen and we all blog on that topic in, well, a chain :) The blogger before me can be found here, the entry after me can be found here, and then entry after that can be found here.

So, the topic for this round….where do I get my ideas?

I will try to keep this from rambling TOO much, but as I write several different genres, my inspiration obviously comes from vastly different sources. So, I’ll break it down for you.

Non-fiction – well, really, my ideas for this come mostly from what other people want me to write. I am working on a project for my brother and uncle who would like to write a book on their business ventures. I am their ghostwriter, so I take notes from recordings they do and write the material from that. My own project, a book examining the heroic couplet poetry of four women poets from the 17th, 18th , 19th, and 20th centuries is an expansion of a paper I did in graduate school.

So, non fiction….not so exciting :)

Children’s books – I get most of my inspiration from my own children and the stories I hear from other parents. Honestly, while my kids make me pull my hair out in abject frustration most days, they are completely hilarious little people. I just sit and watch them, listen to the things they say, how they play with each other, the crazy things they get into in their little make believe worlds. And when I am done cleaning up the mess, I write :) And then I test my stories out and them and if they like them, we are golden.

One of my stories came about one afternoon when we had a power outage. The kids were bored, it was dark and overcast so it was really too dark to play, so, we made up a story. They pretended they were race cars and told me what they would do, and they were dinosaurs, and sharks, and cowboys, and jungle people, and, of course, my daughter was a princess (so her brother was a dragon). And A Magical World was created.

Historical romances…..these are a bit more complicated. My inspiration comes from many sources. And, almost without exception, I get my ideas when I am either doing the dishes, in the shower, or in bed, either trying to sleep or through dreams (a cliché, I know, but I wake up a LOT and from what I’ve heard, that creates vivid dreams – it does for me anyways). I’m not sure why these moments work best for my creativity; probably because it is the only time I am holding still or unoccupied enough for my inner voices to break through. Even weirder, I mostly get ideas for storylines in the shower and in bed – and I hear dialogue and see specific scenes while doing the dishes (don’t worry, my straight jacket is already being measured.) However, I think this has something to do with the fact that I listen to music as I do the dishes….I discuss music inspiration a little farther down, so you’ll see what I mean.

As I write historical fiction, a lot of my ideas come from actual historical events; and I try to chose things that most people wouldn’t have heard of. I watch the history channel a lot :) For example, I have story ideas about the mother of Robert the Bruce (of Braveheart fame) who was, by the accounts I’ve seen, a total spitfire. And a story about an ancient British queen who deposed her husband and ran off with his chief of security. I mean, come on, this is really cool stuff!

The beginning of my current work in progress was inspired by the tale of a young woman in the early 12th century who escaped an arranged marriage (and also, apparently, the clutches of a powerful priest, who wanted her for less than holy reasons – he had first met her because she was the niece of one of his mistresses by the way). She climbed up her wall and clung to an iron spike to avoid her wedding night, and when everyone finally got tired of waiting for her to come down, she escaped to a convent and became a renowned holy woman who made underwear and slippers for the Pope. History is FULL of interesting stories, just waiting to be found.

Like several other wonderful writers in our chain, music inspires me a great deal. But usually not a whole book idea. I pick up on the general mood of a song and scenes pop into my head; it’s kind of like watching a movie with that song as the background music. And it’s never happy music or scenes. It’s usually music from groups like Evanescence, Apocalyptica, and Rob Dougan. I absolutely LOVE the music from these groups, but it usually isn’t happy-go-lucky stuff. I have gotten some really good, heart wrenching death/separation/despair type scenes from some of these songs. Sometimes, and please don’t have me committed (although I know I’m not alone here) :) I hear dialogue in my head. The characters arguing, discussing, crying, shouting. I see characters cradling their dying love in their arms, pulling the trigger and watching their enemy fall, stroking the face of their love as they say goodbye, as the music I am listening to swells in the background.

Romeo and Juliet type of love, the all consuming, burning, make-your-heart-jump-into- your-throat-every-time-you-see-him type love is just pumped into every note of these songs, and when I hear them, I can’t help but write about characters who feel the way the song feels and sounds. Listen to Apocalyptica’s Bittersweet (which has lyrics) or Romance (which does not) – or Evanescence’s My Immortal or Good Enough – or Sarah Brightman’s Deliver Me – or Rob Dougan’s Nothing at All or Furious Angels or I’m Not Driving Anymore…..these songs just stir something that I can’t shut off.

I also often use things that have happened in my own life….I have had an…interesting….past at times :) A lot of it has made it’s way into my stories. Of course, I change names, combine different people I’ve known to make one character, greatly embellish situations….but some of the more colorful parts of my own history have made it into my books. It’s therapeutic in a way, to write about my own life through other characters. I can make them do the things I wish I had done, or change things I wish I had not….I can finally requite that unrequited love :) or kill off the jerk that broke my heart. Really, some great real life situations make perfect fiction situations – it’s all in how you spin the tale :)

And like others in the chain, I am inspired by what I see around me every day. When watching the first National Treasure movie, I thought how fun it would be to add some sort of treasure hunt to my book, to make it more mysterious and give the story an added dimension. So my book went from being a broken-heart-then-finding-new-love story, to being a romantic suspense where the main characters are on the hunt of their lives.

When it comes right down to it, I suppose I’m inspired by life in general. Events of the past, my own life experiences, the experiences of others expressed through music, theater, art (a really great painting can get all kinds of creative juices flowing – the walls of my house are plastered with historical romance inspiring art), movies, books, etc, watching the world around me, experiencing that world, living in other worlds through vivid dreams….all of this combines to create the stories that run through my head at all hours of the day or night..

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Official Website

I finally got my website up and running so if you want to take a look head on over to :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back in the Proverbial Saddle

Well, I decided to give the agent route one more try, so Sunday, I sent out 20 equeries and low and behold, within an hour I had a request from a very good agent for my FULL manuscript, on a 4 week exclusive basis. I am very excited. At the very least, I should get some helpful notes on what needs fixin' so I couldn't be happier.

I have also begun my second novel and am really enjoying working on it. I had almost forgotten how fun it is to meet new characters and get lost in a new world. I've spent so much time editing the first novel, the whole writing process was kind of lost to me for a bit.

Annnd, I have also finished several new children's books as well. I will be sending those out to a few agents and publishers in the next few weeks. So, life on my computer has been very busy lately.

Speaking of which, my poor printer (which is less than a year old) is about ready to go on strike, I think. While printing out my manuscript for the lovely agent who requested it, my much-abused printer began making pitiful little squeaky sounds - I just don't think it was made to spit out a 330 page manuscript on a bimontly basis (at the minimum). Not to mention all of my critique buddies' manuscripts and anything else I don't feel like editing on the computer screen. And the constant ink refills are killing my bank account. So, I have decided to upgrade to a laser printer that was designed for a ton of printing. I think this time comes to every writer and it has come for me. :)

In the meantime, I am enjoying getting back into the writing, and yes, even the querying, groove, as painful and frustrating as the process often is. Back to Work!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We are back from our family reunion and totally exhausted, but it was fun :) I got to see my parents again which I very much enjoyed, as they haven't seen my children in a few years. I hate living so far from them :) So it was very nice to be able to reintroduce my children to their grandparents. We came home to a clean house, which we promptly destroyed, and the mess has only grown as I was immediately sucked into Breaking Dawn - which I loved, by the way, despite many bad reviews. In any case, tomorrow begins regular life again and so I must clean....and if I get a few spare seconds, write :)