The He[art] of Writing

Today I skipped my daily hour or more of writing. A discipline I’ve maintained for many years, it has resulted in four traditionally published novels, as well as a poetry collection (All This) and a hybrid memoir, Dreaming Myself into Old Age: One Woman’s Search for Meaning, to be published by Shanti Arts in 2023. Shanti Arts will also release my new poetry collection, California Dreaming. I’ve also published numerous short stories, poems, and essays in 165 venues.

Not writing today made me think of a toddler I dreamt of last night. He told me he didn’t feel emotionally connected to me. At the moment, that’s how I feel about writing. Since I’m currently not immersed in writing a novel or poetry, I feel emotionally detached from the process, but not because I’ve stopped producing. I’m working on a manuscript that starts with my days as a high-school drop out—a memoir that is also an analysis of the genre.

Continue reading “The He[art] of Writing”

Imagination: A Necessity for a Successful Life

“Logic will get you from point A to point B, but imagination will take you everywhere” – Albert Einstein.

I’ve been thinking more about the importance of imagination not just as a writer and reader but also as a survival tool. And I wonder how and when this faculty first appeared. Of course, when discussing imagination, creativity is not far behind, for the two are handmaidens. The imagination needs our creative abilities to be realized, and, to be fully creative, we need imagination. Continue reading “Imagination: A Necessity for a Successful Life”

Giving birth to fictional characters

My novel Curva Peligrosa opens with a tornado that sweeps through the fictional town of Weed, Alberta, and drops a purple outhouse into its center. Drowsing and dreaming inside that structure is its owner, Curva Peligrosa—a curiosity and a marvel, a source of light and heat, a magnet. Adventurous, amorous, fecund, and over six feet tall, she possesses magical powers. She also has the greenest of thumbs, creating a tropical habitat in an arctic clime, and she possesses a wicked trigger finger.

When Curva had ridden into Weed on one of her horses two years earlier, she was like a vision from a surrealistic western with a parrot perched on each shoulder and a goat following. Curva’s glittering gold tooth flashed, and she wore turquoise rings on each finger. A rainbow-striped serape hung from one shoulder. Curva also wore a flat-brimmed black hat and carried a rifle along with six-shooters. Continue reading “Giving birth to fictional characters”

Do novelist’s books really come fully formed?

Before I committed myself to writing and became part of that world, I had no idea what was involved in constructing a novel. I assumed the narrative flowed easily from the writer’s pen to paper (and in those days, a lot of writing was done with a pen or pencil, though typewriters also were used). The finished product looked so pristine that I couldn’t imagine it ever being anything but perfect. Not only did narratives read as if they had come fully formed from Zeus himself, but they also were error free. Continue reading “Do novelist’s books really come fully formed?”

Book Marketing 101

art-2417013_1920We writers are innocents in many ways, especially regarding the selling side of the publishing business. As long as we can stay in front of our computers, engaged in the dream world of our fictions, we don’t have to think of how these narratives will find their readers. Now that three of my novels have been published, I’ve had to make the adjustment. It hasn’t been easy. Continue reading “Book Marketing 101”

How does writing novels give birth to the author?

The road to publishing a novel is a long one. When I reviewed my notes for my first published novel, Fling!, I was amazed to discover I had started working on it in 1999. When I first began, I had hoped to write a lyrical novel a la Virginia Woolf. Then my husband called my attention to a review of another Canadian writer’s book, Barbara Gowdy’s Mister Sandman. When I read of her comic sense, “both inventive and tough,” I realized again how much I wanted to and can write in this way. But I also had resisted it because the style seemed limited to certain topics. It’s difficult to write beautifully and be funny, and I was letting my desire for beauty inhibit the progression of what later became Fling! Continue reading “How does writing novels give birth to the author?”

Timing: Giving Birth to a Novel

When I give readings of my last published novel, Freefall: A Divine Comedy, I always spend time explaining that it didn’t come fully formed like Athena from Zeus’ forehead. I’d worked on parts of it for years, but eventually, the narrative solidified and attained its final shape. As is often the case for me, it took a while for the main character’s voice to fully emerge. It’s a little like a partial birth, if there is such a thing. The legs and arms came first. Eventually the rest followed. Continue reading “Timing: Giving Birth to a Novel”

What goes into launching a book for publication?

With a poetry collection (All This) and three novels published, I’ve experienced what it’s like to release a book into the world. Each work offers its own peculiarities. Partly it’s the difference in publisher (Little Red Tree Publishing released All This, Regal House Publishing put out my novel Curva Peligrosa, and Pen-L Publishing gave birth to Fling! and Freefall: A Divine Comedy), each having its own approach. But it’s also the difference in genre. While poetry has a more limited audience base, fiction is another animal, appealing to a wide range of readers. Consequently, in many ways, a novel has to be packaged differently. What ends up on the cover must stimulate a potential reader’s imagination and seduce him/her into buying the book. Continue reading “What goes into launching a book for publication?”

Where do characters come from?

Readers who aren’t writers themselves tend to think that most aspects of a novel come directly from an author’s imagination. Some novels do arrive in that fashion, but most don’t. These readers don’t understand how characters can appear and then evolve during a narrative, learning and growing through their actions and the resulting events that unfold. Continue reading “Where do characters come from?”

A tribute to beta readers

tux-161439_1280Since the release of Freefall: A Divine Comedy, I’ve been asked numerous times at readings what inspires me during the process of writing a long narrative. How do I keep going in the face of years of revisions? This questioning caused me to review the notebook I kept during the writing of this novel, something I create with each book I write. The notes end up being almost as long as the work itself, allowing me to have conversations with myself about the project—what’s working and what isn’t. Continue reading “A tribute to beta readers”

What’s It Take To Be A Novelist?

writing-3209899_1920Pen-L Publishing, the house that has published two of my novels (Fling! and Freefall: A Divine Comedy), has also contracted with me to write another that features Tillie Bloom, Freefall’s main character. This new work’s title is Tillie: Portraits of a Canadian Girl in Training, and I’ve been working on it for the past few months when I wasn’t making final revisions to Freefall. Continue reading “What’s It Take To Be A Novelist?”

Where do characters come from?

flamingo-3334359_1280During a recent interview, I was asked how I start a novel and create characters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t give this person an answer that was universal. Each book puts different demands on me and has its own particular origins. So I’ll focus here on my most recently released work, Freefall: A Divine Comedy. Continue reading “Where do characters come from?”

Why Do You Read Novels?

colorful-fireworks-4th-of-july-picjumbo-com copyAs a fiction writer, I often ask myself why people read novels and how can I convince them to read mine? That question occurred to me again recently when I finished a novel that had me questioning why read fiction. The book was engaging enough. The writer was competent and had created characters that seemed believable (though that isn’t necessarily a criterion for me). There was enough tension to keep me reading in order to discover more about these lives I had immersed myself in. But the experience felt flat, and I wondered why I had spent several precious hours on something that wasn’t more satisfying. Continue reading “Why Do You Read Novels?”