Unlikely writing places for insiration? I’ve got tons. I write best in unlikely places, and I’m always looking for new ones. I’m also a peripatetic writer: Have Laptop Will Travel. Soemtimes changing where you write changes everything about what you write. Weird ones that work for me: the shower (I need a waterproof phone), my inside stairs (Christopher Robin complex?), the closet (see the movie THE MUSE). Yours?
I asked myself today why I’m writing a blog — and these words popped into my mind: inspiration, ideas, empowering your creativity. I write this as a writer’s journal, not a how-to write, not craft articles, and not how to query agents and get published. You can find better authorities on those things. This is where I accumulate my own personal sources for inspiration, ideas, and empower my own creativity. This is my personal writer’s diary, where I can refer back to things I’ve learned or found. The DIY Staycation Writer’s Retreat. All the romance novels set in Italy. Magical realism in poetry and fiction. More
Teaching a Child to Write — How I Began As as Writer
How to teach a child to write? — by early reading. I’m living proof. I gained my desire to write from my mother, who read aloud to me and my brother every day. She also often took us to the library. When I was ten, she took me through a magical literary portal — a fantastic and immense bookstore full of used books, Acre of Books in downtown Long Beach, California. I remember holding her hand and walking into a warehouse sized space so thick with dust that I instantly sneezed.
I was thrilled to be part of the first Women’s Fiction Writers Association quarterly Author Happy Hour, sharing secrets of success — and lots of the struggle along the way — with three other wonderful novelists who have recently published books.
Click the link above to watch the Youtube!
We laughed and talked about the whole process of writing and publishing, the writing life, and our own unique formulas for approaching the creative act. More
Many people haven’t been to Italy, and without visiting there, it’s almost impossible to see the work of Gianlorenzo Bernini. My time-travel novel, The Renaissance Club, (now available for pre-order on Amazon in either paperback or ebook) features not only his art, but Bernini himself. It’s set in five Italian cities rich with art and beautiful architecture: Rome, Assisi, Siena, Florence, and Venice. Rome especially features his expressive, passionate art. He’s the genius artist of the 17th century, and the idol of the protagonist, young art historian May Gold. Their meeting through the shifting folds of time occurs often near one of Bernini’s artworks.
To help you see the places and sculptures in the book, I created The Renaissance Club Pinterest Illustration Board, illustrating my time-travel novel and has sections for all the cities May Gold visits on her tour of Northern Italy with her Renaissance Club colleagues. All the Bernini art she sees is included, along with places and art associated with time adventures by other characters.
Take a tour of Renaissance Italy — in both May’s contemporary time, and Gianlorenzo Bernini’s 17th century — while you read The Renaissance Club.
I never thought I’d be writing about thriving in National Novel Writing Month, but November 2016 changed my perspective on what I could do in my writing life. I learned the discipline of trying to write an entire novel in one month. I had had nothing but challenges trying to find a publisher for my first novel, The Renaissance Club (forthcoming January 16, 2018 from Fiery Seas Publishing). They say the best thing you can do to sell your book is write a new one. So on a reckless whim, I signed up for my first #NaNoWriMo.
How did I find a way to thrive? By plunging into a daily word goal of 1,600+ words. What I learned is that I love s challenge, and word count made me compete with myself, I was not only reckless to enter #NaNoWriMo, I wrote recklessly. Thirty days later, I found the partial novel draft full of life, and for the last year I’ve fleshed it out.
NaNoWriMo for Pantsers
If you’re an outline-averse writer like me, the idea of entering a force writing march with a precise outline of who, what, when, where, why feels like closing the door to inspiration. Charts like that shoo away any muse I have wooed close. So what can I use as a guide, other than my vague idea that my sisters would be like those in Sense and Sensibility (did I mention that I have two complete sets of Jane Austen novels, one for upstairs, and one for downstairs?).
Someone in one of my writing groups asked what makes a great first page. It’s an excellent question, and no two answers will be alike, despite what the bestseller lists and books on writing “the breakout novel” tell us.
Character always draws me into a book. I don’t read many thrillers or fast-paced stories. Someone reported the advice that a first line of a novel should make you nervous. I think that works well for readers who love suspenseful stories. I’m not so reeled in by suspense, but a great character in the book’s opening — even an unappealing person — will catch me.
A Man Called Ove did this, with the most unique character I’ve ever read about. I kept reading just to see who was going to punch him in the face. Here are three book openings whose characters, sketched nimbly in first paragraphs, hooked me. And the books proved just as good as their openings!
I’m calling mine a StayWriCation, because I plan to host my solitary writer’s retreat here in the most comfortable, lovely place I can work — home. Many writers escape to rural retreats where they often share solitude (how is this possible?) with other writers in an unplugged, calm setting, in order to make progress on whatever they’re starting or working on. I can’t afford travel, hate planes and airports, miss my dog when I leave home, and insist on the comforts of a speedy Internet while writing. Writing retreats are not really designed for me.
So one year, I crafted my own StayWriCation. It was in November, and I had to finish final editing of a childhood memoir, so as to send out queries and snag an agent. I was determined to have pure, unadulterated, daily writing time — and what better place to have it than my sun-filled, high-ceilinged living room, with a wall of glass, a deck nestled under trees, with the roses I grow to water while thinking through plot points, hummingbirds whizzing over my head?
I developed a daily rhythm, working from 7 am until 1 or 2 in the afternoon, and then taking myself out for fun, going places I normally don’t go. I treated my home, the San Francisco Bay Area, as if I were a tourist, wanting to see exciting things.
It worked like a dream. Novel writing is long and requires great concentration. For those without young children at home, I recommend trying a home-based, Do-It-Yourself Writer’s Retreat whenever you need to make a big push: first draft, first edits, approving publisher’s edits, etc. I don’t sit at a writing desk, but roam around the house and neighborhood using portable devices. My muse seems to enjoy a good walk or a lng shower. I’ve learned to memorize long chunks of writing until I can get to a computer.
You’ll have to warn your spouse that you’re Not Available during certain hours, but presumably if you’re a novelist, he knows the “I’m Writing” look — the vacant stare, lack of response to questions, mumbling to yourself. Mine says he can never tell if I’m talking to someone or dictating onto my phone. So he doesn’t like to interrupt me — great!
For ideas and inspiration, here are some articles on how-to DIY your writing retreat. Every one of them mentions having a writing goal, to which I say YES!!
Writer Laura Munson defines her own personal Walden
But don’t be limited. Dream your own perfect in-place writing retreat. Maybe it’s in a local cafe, a library, or like one of my friends, a hotel room so close to her home she can walk to it.
Happy writing! What’s your current writing goal? Write me if you like.
It’s the best of times — having a book or two or more out in the world, for people to read. It’s the worst of times — feeling the constant pressure to get books into readers’ hands and Be An Author, publicly.
I’m feeling the best and worst times right now, as I prepare to have two new books launched in 2018. What to do today? That’s the first thing I think of, not the new novel or poem I’m working on. And since I’ve pledged to write two hours first thing in the morning, the question now is, do I blog or tweet or Facebook about a book already out — or do I close the curtains and the doors, pretend I’m a mushroom hidden under the forest floor, and plunge into the solitary delight of creation.
The truth is, the creative process can get lost in the marketing part of Being An Author. And that’s a shame. Writing should be the core thing.
I need to not know what comes next in my writing, so I don’t outline. I just set aside two hours first thing every morning to find inspiration. I can paint my nails, watch the leaves stir in the trees, tend my roses, but I have to be thinking creatively and feeling the creative wind blowing. For me, this is the magic spell. Make the time, and things come. Your time might be midnight or dinner hour or noon, but see if a schedule works for you.
Of course blogging and posting on social media is also writing. Sometimes the muse inclines her head toward one or another platform and says, “Go talk to them.” And then you can be both Author and Writer and maybe mention your book while you’re at it. (The Renaissance Club, forthcoming in January 2018 from Fiery Seas Publishing.)
This is La Spezia — one of the locations in my work-in-progress novel, The Romantics, the story of two half-sisters, their dispute over an inherited cottage in Italy, inhabited by the ghost of the poet Shelley.
This is where I wish I was living, even imaginatively. But I’m stuck dealing with the hassles of publishing my last novel, The Renaissance Club. This is the fate of the Indie author — the self-published or micro-press published novelist. Nothing is easy, and everything takes up the precious time we need for the slow, slow, but deliciously slow creative process.
So I’m turning to one of my favorite gurus on the subject of publishing to help you navigate, if you’re trying ot decide whether to be an India author. Here’s Jane Friedman on a new twist in self-publishing: getting an agent AFTER you self-publish. And if you’re still trying to decide if you have the right stuff to be a self-publisher, here’s Jane on how to make the decision. She’s so practical, and that really helps with a highly emotional decision!
As for me, I’m an Indie at heart. I like conceiving of book covers (even if I ‘m not an artist), and I like the whole idea of marketing my stuff. I love playing on social media and establishing myself as an author this way. Blogging is what I do to relax, ditto Twitter and Facebook.
I’ll see how things go, but I may publish The Romantics on my own. There are so many good reasons to go Indie — a big one being the luxurious feeling of control. I really miss it. But the cure, of course, is writing something new.