Posted in My Process, The Writer's Life, Writing & Publishing

Creating Characters and Places

To give readers a bit of a hint about the book that is being released this coming week I want to give you a bit of a sneak peek at the characters you’ll be meeting in The Secret of the Storm. To that end, I’m going to talk a bit about the main character in this book and how I created her and the fictional town of Slauson Cove. And forgive me if this seems vague but, I don’t want to give too much away for readers.

TSOTS COVER ADI spent a lot of time in my teens and twenties traveling the USA and into Canada. In fact for a while, I think my family feared that I would be a permanent nomad instead of settling down like they had hoped for me. During that time I did a good deal of traveling specifically in New England; visiting places like Cape Cod, Massachussettes and Newport, Rhode Island along with Philadephia, Boston, and New York. There were various things about these places that stuck in my mind and continue to do so today. Slauson Cove came from taking all of those elements that I came to love and weaving them together into a fictional place. From the local college campus coffee house to the stately historical homes, Slauson Cove was a bit of an ideal place for me. A conglomeration of all the things I had loved about New England towns. The lighthouses, the rocky beaches, and the quaint cottages.It wasn’t hard to imagine this town in my head with its sprawling hub of a town square and historical landmarks some of which aren’t put into the book at all.

You see, when I started creating this world there were so many details to the town and the people that comprised it that I wrote detailed descriptions of shops, offices, and even minor characters that come into play like the shopkeeper and his son that Elora meets when she is setting up shop at Walsingham Manor. The buildings in Slauson Cove have histories that are largely unknown but were important in my creative process. Coming up with the concepts are easy. Bringing them to life on the page is more difficult than people think. While you don’t use all the details in the manuscript, as the creator, you have to have them in your mind in order to keep things in a continuous flow. So in preparation, there was a good amount of “back-writing”, as I call it, so that those details were there if I needed them.

With characters it is much the same. I did extensive sketches of my main characters. When you meet Elora Castain she is a reporter for the Boston Globe who has worked her way up the ladder but, she is somewhat burned out on the job. It was never her real passion and the circumstances that she finds herself in give her a way out to explore her creative side. She’s more than happy to take the risk of starting over in her career in order to explore that part of her life.

I had an editor in the refining stages tell me that Elora came across as far too naive to be in the position she was in and living in a metro area like Boston. Personally, I refuse to think that there are not naive people living in bigger cities like Boston but, for the sake of the story I tried to rewrite certain elements in order to give her that city-girl edge at first. But with Elora, there is a sort of innocence that had to be explored. She discovers so much about her family’s history in such a unique way that it was, for me, important that the vulnerability show.

For Elora I did a number of sketches. I even wrote letters back and forth between me and the character that asked questions about her lifestyle, what she did know, what she felt when she discovered certain aspects of the history, and how she felt about the slayings in Slauson Cove. It was an eye-opening exercise that was used in another project that I was working on during the same time with a co-author. So, as people read the book, I might just release some of those research and developmental writings if people want to read them.

In my notebook there are sketches for characters that I didn’t even introduce in the book. There are notes for a sequel since so many of my beta readers wanted more after finishing The Secret of the Storm. Weigh in as you finish it and let me know if you’d like to see another volume. I’m open to the possibility of revisiting Elora and Slauson Cove. For now, get a sneak peek with the digital version via Amazon for the Kindle. It is available as a pre-release and the print version, if you prefer, is on the way soon.

Posted in Lessons Learned, The Writer's Life

Organizing The Life Of A Writer

When I’m writing, I start out as something known as a “pantser”. That is, I sit down for a number of days and just write. It can be anything from scenes to character sketches to outlining notes. Considering that I typically am working on multiple projects, I’ve found that this can become quite confusing. Now that I am starting to add elements to my life that include family outings, dates, marketing, and a day job… let’s just say my paper trail is so confusing that I don’t think a mouse could chew it’s way through it and make sense of even a little bit of it. So, it is time for me to get organized.

944e903479c324fa_Self_Motivation.xxlargeI’m off today to pick up some much needed supplies to get my writing in order. I need folders and a file box of some sort since the file drawer on my desk isn’t in any sort of working order at the moment. (When I moved out of my ex-husband’s apartment my desk got torn apart and the drawer hasn’t worked right since.) So, that’s part of my agenda. Funny thing is that I hardly work at my desk these days. I’m usually at a kitchen table or sitting on my boyfriend’s bed working. But, that’s no reason to not be organized about it.

I’ve gone back to the old habit of carrying a back pack. It keeps my laptop with me at all times and allows me to have my binder and notebook handy as well. I don’t see this as a bad thing but, I also plan to switch to an attache or messenger bag instead. Backpacks are a little young. I’ve also had to go back to another habit I had when I was in school. That is; living by my personal planner. Scheduling is becoming a huge thing for me.

Of course, I make time for family and the boyfriend and kid. However, I noticed that keeping track of things with work and now trying to book marketing events and appointments is impossible to keep all in my head. Until I get a tablet device my little binder dayplanner is going to be my best friend. I do plan to bring it into the 21st century though and use Google Calendar as well. Trying to keep both updated with deadlines, appointments, and what’s happening will help.

I think that this last year has been a defining one for me. 2013 is certainly a year of big change. Adding this pen name, getting out of  bad relationship, starting a new and amazing one… it only stands to reason that my writing career is going to follow suit. I have such an awesome support system locally. I’m trying to branch out and pull together online community as well. Doing that is going to be the tricky part. I’ve never been that successful at it in the past but, I’ve never been able to focus on things being good like they are now.

Its Friday folks! I get to do a couple of awesome things that I’ve been looking forward to all week. First of all, I get to go and see my boyfriend and the kiddo that I’ve not seen all week. I promised a six year old that I would be there when she got home from school after talking to her last night and hearing her say how much she loved and missed me. I also promised the boyfriend that I would be there today as well. He just doesn’t realize that he’s going with me to get some supplies at WalMart yet. He’s about to find out.

Enjoy your weekend everyone. I know I will. I’m about to get it all together finally and that feels amazing.