Friday, July 24, 2015

A Writer Grows Up

I’ve been revising some of my books. It’s interesting to read them after two or three years because I’ve changed. I’m not afraid to write what I want to now, unlike when I first began writing and held things back for fear of what others would think if they knew my real thoughts and feelings. That came from years of feeling too weird to gain the approval of others, but since I’ve shed my desperate need to please everyone, a gift that came from practicing my craft, my characters now say the darndest things.

Sometimes this is a good thing. It makes my work more honest, and hopefully, more interesting. However, it can also disappoint those who like what I did before. One reader hated my dark crime fiction “Circumstantial Evidence” because “It started out really goodThen it just got gross and weird murder after murder no suspense.” At first, I was a bit hurt by her admission. She probably read the first chapter in one of my shorts or in an anthology I did with my good friend, J. Naomi Ay, and expected a full-length novel in the same tone. My bad. I shouldn’t have put it in the back of a lighter short, but this review is a good example of what happens when an author matures and begins to spread their wings. I took a chance. It’s not an easy read, but it’s what it is, and frankly, I don’t blame her for being mad. She felt hoodwinked.

I was reminded today of a piece I wrote back in February about how my desire to entertain people had eclipsed my desire to market on social media. This hasn’t changed. In fact, since I’ve decreased my exposure on Facebook and Twitter, the sales of my books have increased. This just proves to me that driving myself crazy coming up with 100 pithy 140 character blurbs a week wasn’t selling my books. I’m not Kim Kardashian. No one is watching my Twitter profile. I post the link to it in the back of my books so my readers can visit my profile, and when I post, I post for my readers.

Now that I’ve confessed my lack of enthusiasm for Twitter, I must extol the awesomeness of Pinterest. The difference between the two isn’t just that one limits you to 140 characters, it’s in the experience. With Pinterest, I can give my readers a visual tour of the era in which my books take place. Hopefully, this enhances their involvement with the characters and the story. It also teaches me a thing or two about the way my characters lived. Seeing a corset or a chamber pot can really put things into perspective. 

I guess this is my confession that I haven’t so much abandoned social media as I have planted my flag on planet Pinterest, and that’s where I go when I feel the need for inspiration, or to find out what a pair of eighteenth century men’s breeches looked like. And, doggone it, I just plain like it.

Please visit my Pinterest page. Let me know what you think, and / or what you would like to see pinned to my pages. Summer is here and the pinning is easy. Enjoy!

Friday, May 29, 2015

I'm a Writer

Five years ago, I didn’t know I was a writer. I just thought I had a fertile imagination, and then one day I looked at a picture of my granddaughter on my fridge and imagined her carrying my little dog down the hallway. I wrote the beginning of But the Children Survived, and sent it to my friend Loraine, who was a copy editor at the Orlando Sentinel. She was shocked. She asked me how long I had been writing like that, and I said that this was the first time. She told me to keep writing. I published the book in 2012 and have written many since. If you’ve ever wondered if you’re a writer, read this.

I went to dinner with my husband, Hans. A family walked in – a man, his wife, and their young daughter. The wife wasn’t beautiful, her body bears the shape and weight of a past pregnancy, and when she and her daughter went to the bathroom, an image of the husband came to me. He’s at a bar, sitting alone, and having a beer when this hot little number sidles up and asks him to buy her a drink. He’s a regular guy – overweight, wearing the same clothes he wore in high school, wearing a short hairstyle that’s easy to care for – so he’s all excited when this young, sexy woman talks to him. After she chats him up, he follows her to the men’s room where, while he’s kissing her neck, she sticks a needle in his. It’s filled with a drug that will render him unconscious. She makes a phone call and leaves him there.

Back to reality: By now, the guy’s wife and daughter have returned to the table. Hans and I are talking about having the grandkids over for a couple of days and in my mind, I’ve got the guy hogtied in the back of an SUV on his way to the hospital. There, the bimbo-from-the-bar's father is waiting for a lung transplant. Her boyfriend, a not-too-smart guy with a thick neck and a strong back, takes bathroom guy into the hospital and leaves him on a gurney. The girl, now dressed as a nurse, takes him to the OR where a team is waiting to extract his lung. 

Back to reality: The couple has ordered, and the waitress brings their drinks. Hans is saying he can’t finish his meat, and I tell him to get a box. While we’re talking, I’m imagining a doctor opening up bathroom guy’s chest and finding out that he has stage four lung cancer. There will be no transplant today. The End. 

We pay our check and get up to leave. The couple and their daughter are eating,  and as we pass their booth, they are unaware of the precarious situation in which I have placed the husband / father, nor if the irony surrounding his tragic end. Hans and I go home and he puts his take-home box in the fridge.

I was the type of kid who, when I couldn’t fall asleep, would imagine my bed was riding on the waves of the ocean. I would plan how I would survive or when an island would come into view, or when the plane would spot me and save me. The images never stopped. Ever.  So if this sounds familiar to you, if this is what you do while carrying on a conversation with your spouse, friends, co-workers, or you find yourself constructing an elaborate tale while waiting in traffic, odds are you’re a writer, too.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Thousand Words

I find it very difficult to talk about myself and that’s why I love Pinterest. The images I’m drawn to say a lot about me. The old saw “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true.

When I first came to Pinterst, I added photos that were related to my books – things Kevin Chandler would like, or Mindy Lane from But the Children Survived would be into. I created boards kids could pin things to. But as time went on, I found myself adding things that were more about me than the characters in my books, and that’s when people began interacting with me.

So far, my eighteenth century clothes are the most popular boards. These boards were set up in conjunction with my Secret of Truelock Manor series, and I’ve enjoyed learning about hairstyles, clothing, and architecture from that era. It’s nice to see the way people looked, where they lived, etc. The characters become living, breathing human beings. Seeing the layers of clothing they were required to wear, even during the hottest summer, makes me think, “No wonder they were always swooning!”

Mixed in with my “author” boards are the ones I added to pin images I loved, or to add something I wanted to share because it said something about me I was unable to express in words. These photos, movie posters, and artists evoked a memory or emotion that I wanted to share. Some of the fantasy images inspire stories. Some are just nice to look at and bring a sense of peace.

If you want to express yourself, your love of food, or your sense of style, come on over to Pinterest. It’s the one place my introverted self can feel at home.