Wednesday, May 26, 2010

oh those heroines...

You've met Lael. You're about to meet Morrow. And you've yet to become acquainted with Roxanna. Or Roxie, as my hero (her hero) calls her. There are a few more heroines hopping around in my head (and heart), begging to be put into books. Count your lucky stars if you aren't pestered by story people. I love it but sometimes wish my mind could rest. However, it is highly entertaining to live this way - I never need TV:) Stories just unwind in my mind like an old movie reel and I write them down. That's on a good day. Other days (and I had one this week), it was a real workout to cough up a handful of workable words. Sigh. Such is the writer's life, I guess.

Some writers think it is bad luck to talk about your work(s) in progress, your characters and such. It "diffuses the creative energy," and takes away from the work, or something like that. I don't believe in bad luck and diffuse energy sounds a bit too new age for me. I do like to talk about upcoming books as long as it doesn't spoil the story for the reader. Some writers post excerpts on their blogs, do character analysis and photos, outline their research, etc. Love that! Others don't utter one word about what they're scribbling on 5-6 days a week. I'm caught a bit between.

The picture above is my prototype for Roxanna in The Colonel's Lady, taken from my favorite movie. Look familiar? Hope so! I sent this photo to the titling committee recently at Revell to show them my vision of who she is as they ask for things like that. Yet it's hard to snag the right picture, especially when you're dealing with the 18th-century. The Roxie in my head and heart can't be reproduced. Not in the real world, anyway:)

After two years, I've finished her story and have edited it numerous times ahead of my summer deadline. But it's quite a cliffhanger as I still haven't finished the last chapter. I never do till I'm ready to turn it in. I think it's because I'm so sentimental and have a hard time shutting a book down. As soon as I get near the 100k mark, I tend to get melancholy. This book is 116k and climbing. Time to STOP!

So... Do you like to hear what a writer is working on? Does it pique your curiosity or serve as a spoiler? If you're a writer, do you like to talk about your work or keep it quiet?


  1. Oh, hear my heart flutter. I LOVE Last of the Mohicans. That and First Knight. Such poignant love stories. I am shivering just thinking about it. :)

    I do like to hear what authors are working on. And being able to comment is almost like being a part of the process (sorta:).

    I am currently doing the rough draft on my novel and no one really knows what it is about. Once I have that first draft down, then I like to talk about it.

    Just a pet peeve of mine personally so the story doesn't start sounding stale.

    LOVE your heroine model!! She is such a great actress in that movie. :)

  2. Yes, I absolutely like to hear what a writer is working on. I will devour any excerpts they choose to post as well. I know an author who writes Big Fat Historicals with a time travel element (Diana Gabaldon). Because her books take two or more years to write, and then comes production time, she is generous about posting excerpts on the Books & Writers forum. But she's careful about major spoilers. No, I wouldn't want those!

    I agree it's so hard to "cast" our main characters with actors or people in the real world. Sometimes we get very close, but like you said, the people in our minds and hearts are individuals. It would be like trying to cast somebody else in the role of Laura Frantz. I could probably find someone who looks a lot like you, but it wouldn't be YOU.

    Here's one way our writing method differs: I tend to write the endings of my stories, or at least get them roughed out, long before I reach the end of the book. I'm about halfway through my WIP, but have already sketched in the final scene. It's subject to change of course, but it feels right and has helped me pin down certain elements I need to build into the latter half of the book, to earn that ending scene.

    Hope we both have better writing days as the week unfolds. Monday was kind of tough. Tuesday was a little better. May God bless Wednesday!

  3. Oh, Laura, your Roxanne is exquisite! It really helps to picture a character ahead of time. Thank you!

    You might remember that I had to get a new refrigerator a month ago because a lightning strike set our old one on fire. Well, the only thing I've stuck on the new fridge is your postcard of Courting Morrow Little! I love seeing it every time I enter the kitchen!

    As for sharing something from a WIP, sometimes I mention thoughts, issues, or even excerpts without necessarily letting others know that it's from the WIP. That feels comfortable for now but maybe I'll do things differently in the future.

    Have a lovely day!

  4. Hey Laura! Oh, I just love to hear what a writer is working on! To get to know the characters ahead of time or to have a basic plot laid out for you- all of it aids in understanding and “experiencing” the story on a deeper level that you wouldn’t have otherwise. And I just LOVE excerpts! A review is a personal opinion and the back cover synopsis makes it sound like the best book ever, but an excerpt is the proving ground (for me anyway). It’s usually made up of the first few pages (or the whole 1st chapter if you’re lucky) or it’s half of an important scene (just enough to tease you). But that’s where I can see the writing style, the settings, and the personalities (of both the characters and the author).

    And I don’t mind spoilers either :) The first thing I do when I get a book is open it to the middle somewhere and read a few pages, a scene, or sometimes even a whole chapter. Now, whenever I say this to a “reader” their first reaction is a horrified gasp and a verbal chastising about the proper etiquettes of book reading, until I explain why :) I like to read something in the middle first because it has me thinking/working the story out better as I read the beginning and has me wondering what the author is gonna do for the big finish. I feel like I can appreciate the author's talents more that way. What leads up to those middle pages and how everything is going to work out for a happily ever after at the end. It also gives me a better look into the characters and I find I personally understand them better this way. I don’t know, maybe I am crazy? But I guess it’s whatever works for ya ;)

    Laura, I can’t wait to meet Morrow and Roxie! And I pray you have MANY more unwinding-old-movie-reel-writing-days :)

    Amanda Stanley

  5. Hello, my name is Michelle, and I am a spoilerholic! I love spoilers, in fact I'd say I live for them.

    I love to hear what a writer is working on. I feel it lets me know what I have to look forward to. That said, I can't wait to meet Roxie too, and I really need to rewatch The Last of the Mohicans, it's been years since I watched it.

    When I read a book, I read the beginning, then I flip and read the end, finally I come back and read the middle. I think it's mostly because I want to know who the heroine and hero end up together.

  6. So exciting to know you are drawing close to completion of Roxana's tale! I adore hearing about your creative process. I think you do a fine job of sharing while not giving away too many of the details!

    What I dislike about some writers' blogs I've seen is where they go deep into detail of the getting published process, while mentioning very little about the actual writing and creative stuff. I like details that you give us about doing your edits and such; you intersperse it with....well, things of the *imagination* (Imagine that!) But, some writers just bore me with too much of the business aspect.

    I love what you said about never having to watch TV because of the stories in your head! I am the same way.

  7. Casey, Love the heart flutter stuff - mine certainly does that still and I'm twice as old as you:)

    It helps to get feedback here as I am never sure how much to say or how back about my work. Recently I needed reader input about a Scottish name for a family (last name) and I posted some possibilites on Facebook and then took it down. What you said about being a part of the process fits here. Maybe I will do that again in future.

    YES, Mohicans was amazing! I saw it so many times in the theater when it came out back in the 90's. It sparked my love of the 18th-c. in huge ways. I still listen to the soundtrack.

    Can't wait to hear about your WIP when the time comes:)

  8. Lori, That's so interesting about your process. I think it would be gratifying to know the ending ahead of time and would help frame the book. I find endings so much easier to write than beginnings. My struggle is to not make endings melodramatic or cheesy:) I once started and ended a book with a wedding. Which is a no-no. But I love weddings:)

    Your writing forum sounds so interesting. I haven't delved into that yet but bet it offers a lot. Good point about character casting and how you can't capture them exactly. Wish we could. Sometimes they even morph in my mind!

    Happy writing day to you. Yesterday was great. Today many distractions...

  9. I love hearing what authors are working on. And I have a love/hate relationship with excerpts...I adore reading them, but then I add so many books to my TBR pile due to the wonderful excerpts I's a vicious cycle. ;-)

    As a writer, I don't mind talking about what I'm working on, and I do post excerpts here and there, though less for stuff I want to submit - mainly because I'm not altogether sure of where that "line" is for someone unpublished as far as how much sharing is "too much". I'll be more comfortable about that once I have an editor to tell me where that line is. :-)

    I post serials in draft form though, so I'm not afraid to share my writing, overall. It's good to get that initial feedback, even if it's just kudos from friends.

  10. Linda,
    I love how you tie your book into your blog - it's different enough from your book that it's not a spoiler yet you tantalize the reader and make them want to read:) Now that's good strategy!

    As a lightning fan (love thunderstorms in general), I am sorry to hear about your fridge! But glad it's decorated in raspberry silk and lace:)

    This is a beautiful picture, thank you. Madeleine Stowe is a wonderful actress and the hat here is pitch perfect, as my editor says:) Bless you!

  11. Hi Amanda! I'm chuckling as I do what you do - open a book to the middle and read a few paragraphs or pages to get a feel for it before I buy, etc. Since diving into the middle is way out of context, I usually don't remember when I come to it again. Fun hearing about our reading and writing habits - most quite individual.

    Amazon has an interesting feature for some books that let you leap into the book (their "Surprise Me" feature) which I love. You probably know all about this! It feeds our need to know and peruse:)

    This helps me know what to post in future. Sounds like the more the merrier in some respects. Hope you're having a great day there!

  12. Michelle, Spoilerholic, indeed:) You really are one! Quite brave/bold to read the ending, too! But I can see why as I dislike when the hero and heroine don't end up together or there's a murky ending or a to-be-continued cliffhanger. Grrrr. One of the requirements of the CBA is an emotinally satisfying story/ending, for romances anyway.

    Hope you get to watch Mohicans soon. It is one well done movie! Enjoy that Kentucky sun. Pouring here today and cold - we have a fire in the woodstove again.

  13. Mary,
    Thank you - I get bored with all the business stuff, too. It's one of the reasons I don't do a writing-centered blog. A little of that goes a long way for readers, even writers. I want to connect with my readers more than I want to connect with other writers. Of course, in your case, you are both, which is a winning combo:)

    So glad you like the look of Roxie. That encourages me to go over the manuscript once again. I see changes to make even now and sometimes think it will never end:)

    Now back to that story reeling around in my head...

  14. Laura, I am totally with Michelle in Spoilerholicland. Previews of next weeks show is always my favorite part of the television program. I spend the whole week filling in the blanks in my head. Then, I love to see how close I got to what the series writers did.

    Roxanne is a beauty. I loved what you said about not being able to draw a picture of the Roxanne in your heart. That is so true.

    As a writer, I don't mind talking about my WIP to other writers because it feels like I'm talking about dear friends. (The rest of the world would probably think I was crazy talking about these made up people like their real.)

    I've got a good example of this. I told my daughter that I felt so sorry for Emily (the heroine in book 2 of the Manawa Series)because she kept having one bad thing happen to her after another. My daughter shook her head and said, "Mom, you're doing it to her."

  15. Jamie,
    You are absolutely prolific! SIX blogs! That's something I dream about:) Casey here has three. I may be overlooking others. Blogging has so many bonuses. I'd have never met anyone here without it.

    Your TBR stack rivals mine. Reading excerpts does add to it. I'm not sure what the rule of thumb is for unpubbed writers and excerpts. For me, I have to ask for permission to post excerpts as they own my work. There is a 150 word limit on posting without permission. That gets into the area of public domain that I'm not really familiar or comfortable with. I never know what can be quoted safely or not.

    It IS good to get feedback in the venue you mention. It reminds me of Fan Fiction which an author friend is involved in. They post stories for the sheer love of it and get feedback that way.

    Thanks so much for stopping here. Happy reading and writing to you this week!

  16. I'm sorry you experienced a tough writing day this week, Laura. Those are no fun. I hope the words are flowing once again.

    I tend to hold a story close while it's under construction. One reason is that it changes as I go along. My current story, which I'm rewriting with my agent's guidance, is nothing like the earlier versions. Had I shared my storyline with my blog readers, they could have been confused when the book sells and is actually on the shelves.

    That said, I like it when an author shares snippets of her story (no spoilers for me, please) and love it when she shares her creative process. I think you do a great job of both.

  17. Lorna,
    Emily is so funny - we really do do it to our poor characters! I tend to remember the writing advice to get them up a tree and then make things a little bit worse...and then a little bit worser:) OUCH. When you love them that's hard to do.

    I actually like TV previews more than TV shows as it condenses and gets right to the action, romance, drama and all the rest.

    You have so many writing friends you can't help but talk about characters and stuff! I think that is one of the most wonderful things about knowing other writers and readers - being able to share what they like about a character or scene, etc. I am going to try to do more of that here. Some bloggers are masters at it. Kaye Dacus is one of them.

    BTW, one of the things I like most about your blog is that you have so many different voices and you write about so many things, including writing, but not limited to. Always fresh and interesting.

    Bless you for stopping here. I know you are under deadline same as me:)

  18. Keli,
    Love when you say you "hold a story close." You make such a good point about not sharing too much while the story is under construction as it does change dramatically sometimes (many times). Even when we have to write a synopsis/proposal, the story can vary greatly once it is written.

    I do hope your future pub lets you keep your wonderful title. There is something about Violets and Violins that is so evocative and romantic and lovely.

    Hoping you have some quality writing time this week, too. Your blog always inspires me. Your last post was terrific! Thanks for the gracious words here about mine.

  19. I'd love to hear what you're working on! But just share those little golden nuggets you'd like to share...I wouldnt want you to ever feel like second guessing anything after you shared something with us. I'd love to 'meet' your heroines and heroes though, perhaps here a synopsis of the story :)

    I always love to hear how others approach their work. As a writer, I find that I am very linear, I would get too confused hopping from scene to scene, for me its easier to grow a story from the ground up. I always heard (not sure if its true though ) that Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind from the last scene backwards. That blows my mind ;)

    Also, as a reader, I'd love to hear your thoughts on your own characters. Like for instance, Lael's parents. They seemed so opposite and discordant. I always wondered how those two got together. I bet you have a story in your head for that :) Im in the mood to watch Last of the Mohicans. I need to get brave though. Those scalping scenes are hard for me to take. I have too vivid an imagination ;)

    Now...the people clattering in my head to be painting wont be still...gotta go ;)

  20. Oh oh! As long as we're talking about the writing process, I had another question for you ;)
    I was curious, since you deal with subjects that usually take a lot of research, how you approached it. Do you do all your research FIRST and then set down to write, or do you start with your story, and then later go in and fill in the historically accurate details?
    I love historical fic, but I can see how an author might get bogged down trying to get the accuracy just right. Its always interesting to hear how authors handle that...

  21. Hi Laura -

    I like to give back cover blurb versions of what I'm writing, but never a spoiler.

    Susan :)

  22. Heather,
    I'm as interested in the creative process of being an artist as you are a writer. Only you are both! I wonder if those people you draw and paint clamor in your head as mine do? And want to get out? On paper or some other medium?

    That's so fascinating about Margaret Mitchell. Gone With the Wind is quite a hefty book! As a girl I loved the movie and then read the book which has all the little details the movie missed.

    I think linear writing is easier in the long run and may cut down on rewriting. I tend to write in linear-fashion but sometimes hop all over. For the current book I'm dreaming about, scenes in the middle keep coming to me so I write snippets of them down in snippets in a notebook. Scraps of dialogue, physical descriptions go in, too. Sometimes I watch a movie and get an idea and log that away. Reading gives me lots of ideas.

    I research and get to know my characters before I start writing and then research as I go. Researching really never ends! But I love it so am glad for that.

    As for Lael's parents, they were an odd match. Sadly, I came across more than a few wilderness couples that were so paired. Some women couldn't handle the isolation and loneliness and danger. Sarah Click was one of them. Ezekial was a prototype of Daniel Boone so he was more at home in the woods than anywhere else. Only Rebecca, his wife, was far more suited to him and the frontier than poor Sarah.

    Great questions, Heather! I'd love to hear more about your art world and inspiration though I'm sure you'd much rather be painting than telling!

  23. Susan, That is a perfect summation of what I'm trying to do - back cover copy is it! Just enough to intrigue and inform yet not spoil. Thank you for that!

    Hope you're having a great reading, writing, blogging week in your corner of the world:)

  24. lol, well you know me, I'm always willing to babble on at length about just about anything ;) ask away!~

  25. This is a hard question... If I'm following a published author, it can be fun to hear about their next story! It gets me excited for the latest book's release! :)

    However, I'm not sure if it's the same when someone is first starting out. It can be interesting to see how others tackle the writing process, but as for me, I like to keep silent. Well, I suppose I should be blushing now, because I don't know if I have enough experience to say anything on this subject. :) But the story that's on my heart right now...I've prety much kept it to myself (I think the only person who has read most of what I've written so far is my dad). I know there has to be a certain amount of networking when you're a writer, but it must be hard opening yourself up for criticism! I'm afraid I need to work on being able to take criticism better... And it's so hard to share something that's been so near and dear to your heart for so long. I want to be as close to done as possible before I really start sharing my story. :)

    Anyway, I don't know if that really answers your question, but I thought I would share anyway! ;)


  26. Young Madeline Stowe - she was perfect in that role. That is so funny that I was just thinking today about watching that movie again. Don't know when I will get to the frontier forts with you, Laura. Right now I am stuck on a farm at the edge of colonial Philly but with over 10k words in three days, I'm not complaining!

  27. Amber,
    Bless you - it does answer - and very well! You remind me of myself about 20 years ago. An English major, writing my heart out, wanting to be published, etc. It wasn't until the last 5 years or so that I actually talked about my writing. It was my secret and no one knew, not even my husband when he married me. Talk about keeping things close to the heart!

    It takes time to grow your confidence and let someone read your work. I'm glad your dad is there for you that way. It's so important to have someone behind you.

    As for criticism - I don't know that you ever get over the hesitation of sharing your work or the sting of someone not liking it. It takes a lot of courage to put your heart out there, as you alluded to. It really is a work of our hearts and that's bound to hurt at times.

    It's so neat to hear about your journey. Writing really is a learning process and none of us ever "arrive." We are all apprentices, so to speak:) Thanks so much for sharing here.

  28. Carrie, We are cross-posting here:) I just left a thumbs up on your FB page regarding your staggering 10k in 3 days!! I don't think I've ever done that! The spirit is moving:) So thrilled for you.

    Wish we could see Mohicans again together and tour those Ky forts. First up, Fort Boonesboro, then Fort Harrod...

    Keep me updated on that WIP. Sounds like it's going just fine!

  29. Nothing like anticipating a new story! I love hints of what is to come but not spoilers, as such. It is the same as seeing a new book cover for the first time - gets me every time ;-)

    And what is it with these girls and multiple blogs?! I'm in awe ~ just keeping up with one keeps me busy, busy, busy!

    Madeline Stowe, eh?! Plenty of time for me to find the perfect picture for a character spotlight, Laura ;-)

  30. I like to float things out there occasionally to see if they'll work or not . . . never anything that would give away an important part of the story, but something that will (hopefully) leave my readers drooling for more. That way I know I need to write more of that kind of stuff. And I like to see what everyone else is working on, too. When I see others sharing their story ideas, it gets my creative juices flowing!

  31. Rel, I so LOVE your character spotlights! You do it so well on your blog. And your postings of upcoming book covers are very dear to my heart. I always see some I'd completely miss otherwise! Nothing like a great book cover or a peek at characters...

    I agree - one blog keeps me plenty busy:) Sometimes, when I get bogged down, I toy with the idea of a newsletter. But I'd miss my blog buddies too much.

    YES! Please keep me in mind for an opening when Roxanna's story comes round:) Would love that!

    Praying you have a stellar week in every way, Rel.

  32. Kaye, You are so right about getting great ideas and inspiration from other blogs and writers by taking a look at how they are doing things. As I've already said here, you are a master at posting about your books. Your latest posts about ship life with all the graphics just blew me away! I guess we can judge what readers are interested in by the number of comments left after particular posts, etc. Our books and blogs really are all about the readers. Without them, where would we be?

    Thanks for stopping here. You are always a blessing.

  33. Ah, Laura, I love to read about the writing process from someone farther along the road than me. Of course I'm still at the bus depot...:)

    Love the idea of Roxie, and what a beautiful picture! Now I'm even MORE excited, because I know there's another one after Morrow Little! LOL One thing I did as I was finishing up my first manuscript, was find pictures online to fit what I thought my characters looked like (thanks for the idea, Kaye!!). Honestly, it helped me to go back and add so much more to my scenes!

    Hot and humid in Kentucky today - it's been in the 90s just about every day this week, and maybe some summer thunder storms. Who knew we had the heat going this time last week?

  34. Regina, I'm chuckling as I think I was at the bus depot 40 years or so - and then nearly missed the bus when it came! My editor called and I didn't answer. At least not right away. May post about that in future:)

    So glad you like the photo here. Love that you've found it helps your own creative process. YES, thanks, Kaye! She has another winning post today.

    Please send some of you KY temps this way! Raining here as it does every Memorial Day. Actually it rains clear to the 4th of July and around mid-July summer starts, no kidding.

    Bless you bunches and have a great weekend!

  35. LOL - I just got back here and had to clarify...I don't actually keep up six blogs. My main blog isn't even on blogger anymore - I moved it to my own domain ( this year (the blogger one is an archive). So I'm not quite as prolific as I appear by my blogger blog list. 2 are "seasonal", and a couple are archived/dark. ;-)

    Looking forward to reading your work! :-)

  36. Jamie,
    Thanks for clarifying that:) Now I don't feel like such a wimp! I admire you for even keeping one or two active or even seasonal. They do take time. A friend of my brother's combined my website and my blog last year and I really like it though it limits you. Wish I could post some other things but this works for now. I'm off to visit your main site now. You have quite an authorly name BTW:)

  37. You sure do deliver a nice length novel! I can't wait for these next two! Is tomorrow the release date for CML?? Can't wait to read it!

    I got my bookmarks, (thank you!)and the envelope was all chewed up, but most of theme managed to survive. :)

  38. Carla, Glad the bookmarks made it - even if it looks like a dog chewed the envelope! I always wonder what shape they arrive in! I'm mailing some to Rel in Australia today. Now that should be interesting...