From the Author's Desk

Today I'd like to digress from the norm and talk a little about what it's like to be an author--specifically the part of being an author where I begin a brand new book that's the start of a brand new series. I'm in this position right now--working on something completely different for me, a Scottish contemporary series.  In my case, agreeing to take on this task means a) I willingly and knowingly put myself into permanent panic mode for two years; b) I get many many opportunities to hone my procrastination skills; c) I learn perseverance because eventually I'll have a brand new book.

This post is not shameless promotion for me (yet) since only three chapters of the new series exist, and I have a lovely agent who'll see them first and give the thumbs up or thumbs down. This is a promo for all authors--I want to shine a light on just how off-base people are when theyimagine writing as oh-so-glamorous!

The first thing that happens when I start a new book/series is I get a shiny new idea (SNI). This is  the really fun stage. A place, a character, an idea--anything can inspire the SNI. In my case, the catalyst was a hiking trip to Scotland last summer. I mean, I was blessed to visit the country--it would be unnatural for a writer to ignore the bombardment of ideas.
The second thing that happens is also fun. Research. First, into my characters. In this case, three American siblings (two brothers and a sister) whose Scottish mother died when they were all under five. They inherit the family farm in the Highlands from relatives they never knew they had.

Next, there's research to do into the country, customs, mythologies and legends. In the new series, I'll be introducing kelpies (flesh-eating water horses), brownies (house elves that do helpful jobs for people in exchange for food), faeries, and magic. And what have I found? Scottish legends are much darker than many--no leprechans or pots of gold in these tales. Oh, and of course there are kilts.

Once those two (did I mention fun?) things are done, the work starts. I have to write the first draft. The fun for me temporarily ends here. Authors come in a couple of basic types--those who love the first draft process, which is creating stories and worlds out of thin air, and those who prefer the editing phase. I am definitely in that second category. Creating the words is like pulling blood, sweat, and tears from my soul. Revising those words and making them pretty and perfect is what makes writing fun.

The bad thing that happens in the writing phase is that I start to procrastinate, eat, and whine in that order. I'm a big baby when I'm starting a book and my husband is going to heaven for sure because he's so patient with this phase of my work.

Once the book is past the first three chapters, things smooth out for the 100 pages or so. I can breeze along pretty well and get a lot of plot established. Then comes the middle of the book, and I'm back to visiting the refrigerator or the Nutella jar in the cupboard until six chapters before the end. Then, at last, the end is written. A small brag:  I'm pretty good at endings. But maybe that's only relief talking whenever I finish a book.

The sweetest thing any author ever writes is "The End." We love and adore those words--even when we still have to start revisions.

Revisions get done, at least two passes of editing and proofreading take place, the printed copy is read one last time, and then ... we're not done.

Promotion. Now there's a subject for another blog--or to be swept under the rug and never spoken about. Suffice it to say, I have to come up with giveaways, swag, advertisements, Facebook posts, newsletter upgrades, and promoting myself and my work--which I hate.

It's only all worth it when see our book for sale online or hold our babies in our hands, bound and pretty paperbacks. So why do I (we) do this? Some of us can't help it. Some of us love meeting readers. Some of us just like excuses to eat Nutella or post pictures of Sean Connery in a kilt.

But the biggest reason we write is for the rare moments when a reader tells us our stories touched them--made them laugh, made them stay up too late, made them cry, allowed them to escape. That is is so very important to a writer. So--what I really want to say (other than the working title for my new book is "Highland Surprise" -- you had to know there'd be ONE promo moment) is that every one of your favorite
authors goes through a process similar to mine. Not identical, but filled with blood, sweat, and tears to go with the satisfaction. So, never hesitate to tell an author you loved the book. And if you can possibly do it--leave a review anytime you finish a novel. Never know--you might save a jar of Nutella from a crazed novelist!

I'd love to know about YOUR job. Tell me how glamorous (or not glamorous) it is.  I don't have a Scottish contemporary for you yet, but one commenter will have her choice of any of my backlist books!

1 comment:

  1. something different everyday

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com