Mining Real Life for Fiction

One of the things I love about being a writer is how you can completely manufacture people, situations, experience and a world, and how you can use your own life experiences to strengthen the veracity of that world. I think of how the characters in Battlestar Galactica played Triangle – a completely manufactured game (I think) – but yet that physical, athletic ability gave Starbuck and Anders another dimension. Lee wouldn’t have played Triangle. Helo would have…but not cared as much about the game’s outcome as Starbuck. I’m guessing someone in the BSG development team played something – soccer, basketball, whatever – and used that experience to deepen the BSG world. As I’ve mentioned before, in LIBERATING LACEY Hunter plays Ultimate Frisbee because I played it once about 10 years ago. I’d never heard of it before joining a pick up game after work one day, and I’ve never played it since (I’m a sofa/book/cup of tea kind of girl). But it was there, in my subconscious, and Hunter played. Who knew?

Plucking events or details from your own life to enrich your stories isn’t limited to games. We got a Christmas card this year from one of my husband’s colleagues. It was a photo card, very nice, with one photo of the new baby and another, larger family shot. I flipped it over to see where it was made: simplytoimpress.com.

Not Shutterfly. Not Wal-Greens or Target. Simplytoimpress.com.

As a writer, that’s the kind of detail I adore. I guarantee that one day I’ll use something similar to tell you everything you, the reader, need to know about a character. A person who chooses simplytoimpress.com for their photo cards is a person with a very specific agenda on how to present him/herself to the world – an agenda not met by shutterfly.com. And I could use a ton of verbiage about being a Homecoming Queen married to the hottest neurosurgeon in the region. I could talk about designer labels on clothes, or the handmade lace christening dress, or hundred-dollar-a-place-setting wedding china with the gold edge and the rose in the center of the plate, or the Acura minivan.

Or I could have the heroine get an invitation, turn it over, see the website address, snort, and go on with her life. She’ll go to the party and meet the hostess and before I’ve said one word about her the reader will have an impression of who the hostess is and how she views life. There’s no judgment implied in any of this. It’s just a detail, one of the hundreds we see every day in the choices people make…and those details build a richer, more vibrant experience for the reader. So note them and file them away. Ultimate, Triangle, where someone buys their greeting cards…it’s all grist for the mill!

News and a Thank You

LIBERATING LACEY will be available in print some time in the next month or so! I’m thrilled. Really. I’m all about electronic publishing, but having an actual paper copy of my book to put on the shelves…that’s something special. Many thanks to Ellora’s Cave for releasing Lacey in print, thereby making it available to a different subset of readers.

I’d also like to take a minute and thank all the readers who’ve taken the time to comment on the product description page. LIBERATING LACEY released on May 13th. May 14th the book received its first reader five star review, and to my utter shock and delight, they’ve continued to come every few weeks. So, to my readers, thank you. Thank you so much for buying my book, for reading it, and for taking the time to comment on the book.

I finished the final version of LIBERATING LACEY about this time last year. The book, for a number of reasons, took me over a year to write, so I had alot of time to think about what I wanted to write, and why. I wanted to do cougars *eye roll* in a different way; for that matter, I wanted to do cops in a different way…I wanted to think about what makes a relationship work, and what doesn’t…I wanted to think about the shifting, fascinating relationship between power and sex…and most of all, I wanted to really, really sink into what it means to fall in love with someone you just don’t expect to love, who’s completely unsuitable, wrong for you in all the “right” ways and right for you in the only way that matters.

I wanted to write about vulnerability, about the invisible armor we all wear, and what happens when we take the tremendous, frightening risk of letting someone inside that armor. Hunter and Lacey – but mostly Hunter 😉 – gave me a venue to explore all of that.

Readers, thanks for coming along for the ride. I’ve sold a few shorter stories this year, had some missteps that will never see the light of day, learned a lot as a writer, and I’m getting ready to tackle the next single title length book. I won’t return to the same themes…for the moment, I’m delving into different territory. All I can aim for is deeply developed characters and lots of emotional angst (I do love to make them suffer). I’m going to spend more time blogging about my writing process as I work on this book because I find thinking about how I write to be really instructive. There are no guarantees of success in this business. It really is about the journey, the ride, the process and what you learn along the way. So stay tuned!

A Day By The Numbers

# of snowstorms in our area: 1

# of snow tires on my car: 0 (v. bad when trying to get up hill and driveway into garage after Starbucks outing – chai lattes = crack)

# of sick adults in our house: 2

# of sick kids: 0 (v. bad with 2 sick adults)

# of hrs healthy kid spent watching TV today: 8 (expect child protective svcs at front door any time now…except they can’t get here. Whew!)

# of times I put snow gear on healthy kid while trying to avoid hacking up a lung: 4

# of cups of tea made: 6

# of cups of tea drunk while still hot: 2 (why? why?)

# of men necessary to push car into garage after Hero takes it out to buy gas for snowblower: 2 (nice neighbor)

# of snow tires currently on front wheel drive car: 2 (thank you, Hero)

# of words written: 0

And school *headdesk* is closed *headdesk* again *headdesk* tomorrow *headdesk*

Spamming Weirdness

Something completely random…I bet I’ve gotten over 40 emails recently telling me I can get Pfizer products for up to 80% off. Why? Why in God’s name, why? Why, all of a sudden, are all the spammers in the world sending me Pfizer-product-spam? Is it the Apocalypse?

EPIC Awards

I’m so honored that LIBERATING LACEY is a finalist in the Contemporary Erotic category of the EPIC Awards. These awards honor electronically published books in a variety of genres and lengths. The winners will be announced at the EPIC Conference in 2010. Congratulations to ALL the finalists!

Word Count

1100 words today. Not much – 5 pages – but quite a bit considering that while I sat down to work at about 9:30 I didn’t actually start writing until around 1:30. I did some other stuff involving spreadsheets and revision, but not actual production. Sometimes I feel like a line worker in a Model T factory, with a quota and a manager (I call My Hero the VP of Enforcement and he’s TOUGH). But if I don’t put words on the page, I won’t have anything to revise…and revision’s where I’m strongest.

So. 1100 words. 5 pages. One scene. And tomorrow, as Scarlett says, is another day.

Location, Location, Location

I’m typing my first post in my brand new office! This is a huge deal for me. I love my husband beyond all rational sense, but he’s what I call a “shedder”. He just puts stuff down wherever he happens to be when he wants to get rid of it. Keys, wallet, glasses, BlackBerry, pieces of scrap paper, tools (both power and manual), the newspaper, the laptop, whatever. This means when he worked at my old desk, in our shared office, I had to find drafts under whatever he’d shed the night before. Things were never where I left them, including files on the virtual and real desktop. And, despite the fact that we have, between us, three laptops and a file server in the basement, the only machine he liked to work on was my Mac.

I am too old and too long married to consider this flattering.

But…I now have my own office. Complete with a south window (sunshine!), hardwood floors, and in a week or so, a refurbished MacBook Air of my own, a 4×8 corkboard and a 4×8 whiteboard. For plotting, and stuff. Creative stuff. No one will have any business in here but mememe! Hurrah!

Blech

I am sick. I’m also convinced I’ve written the first 8K (second draft of first 8K, I might add) of my new novel in the wrong POV. All is NOT right with the world.

For you writers out there, take some time to explore Alexandra Sokoloff‘s blog posts on screenwriting for novelists. I’m transfixed, and itching to buy index cards and a whole bunch of movies.

Back to the sofa and the box of Kleenex.

Things That Make Me Happy

1. New Uggs – thanks for the suggestion, Lori!

New Uggs!

2. Homemade bread

3. The library

4. Fall weather and afternoons at the park

5. Calluses on my son’s hands from mastering the monkey bars

6. Rereading books

7. Getting go of what I didn’t accomplish today

8. Being grateful for what I did accomplish (700 words), and the people I love and who love me

9. Yoga