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Five Authors (Alive or Dead) I’d Like to Meet #MFRWAuthor

As an author, I love reading and talking about other authors. In a good way, of course. Sure, I may not always love their books, but as people, authors rock. This week I get to pick five authors I’d like to meet, which is a welcome change to narrowing a list down to one of something I love.

So, here goes (in no particular order, obviously, since Jesus falls third on the list):

  1. J. R. R. Tolkien — The master of literary prose. From the moment I started reading The Fellowship of the Ring, I fell in love with his writing style and his created world. I’d want to ask him what it was like to write it. What went through his mind as he created various parts. I imagine we’d have dinner (mushroom soup, perhaps) and a pint of ale at a pub.
  2. Margaret Atwood — I’ve loved Margaret Atwood’s novels since I was a teen and stumbled across The Edible Woman. While her writing can make me uncomfortable, it always moves me. I’d love to hang out with her and discuss writing and women in society today. I see us at a cafe in Yorkville.
  3. Jesus — Since Jesus told parables, he counts as an author, though his stories were told orally and scribed by others. A discussion with Jesus would be enlightening. I envision us hanging out in a garden. I’d ask all kinds of questions about life, the universe, and everything. He’d talk while I listen wide-eyed. I’d have to record it. I’m sure it would all flash by in a blur.
  4. Nora Roberts — The Queen of romance, Nora Roberts’s books captivated me from the first, though I only picked them up for the first time in 2014. I typically avoided romance novels for most of my life, but I loved to read about relationships. Nora Roberts showed me that romance novels are worth spending time on. Her “big Noras,” as she calls her larger novels, are among my favourite books. I particularly love her In Death books. Eve and Roarke are my favourite fictional couple (next to my own Michael and Carolyn, of course).  Case in point: she’s written around 200 books and I’ve read almost all of them even though I only started reading her books in the last few years.I picture having high tea with Nora at the Prince of Wales in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
  5. Stephen King — The King of horror. He had a heavy influence on my writing career. I fell in love with Salem’s Lot when I was a young teen and couldn’t get enough King books after reading that one. All I wanted to do after that was write, not necessarily horror, mind you, but his writing was easy to read and spell-binding, and stimulated my desire to write. King’s main characters are Joe or Jane average. They struggle to pay rent. They battle addictions. No one swoops in to save them. They are relatable. For our meetup, King and I would meet in a jazz bar and chat over sodas, burgers, and fries.

That’s my shortlist. If it were up to me, it would be much longer and would include writers I’ve come to know only virtually and would love to meet. I’m talking about you, Tom Benson, Nico Laeser, Sylva Fae, Anne Francis Scott, Lucinda Hawks Moebius, and all you other IASD, SFF Learning Group, or MFRW members who’ve helped me muddle through the quicksand that is indie publishing without ever meeting in person.

For more posts from other writers on this subject, check out the MFRW 52-Week Challenge post for week 6.

 

An Influential Book — #MFRWauthor

Everyone who knows me would predict I’d select The Lord of the Rings as the book that most influenced my life. They’d be correct, but, in this instance, it’s not LOTR I want to write about.

Many books have influenced my life, and, while LTOR is number one on my list, Gone with the Wind places a close second. GWTW stood out for me because the main character was a strong-willed woman in a time when women were repressed. Despite the odds against her, Scarlett O’Hara went after what she wanted, public opinion be damned.

Imagine if she’d had a blog?

While all the other women around her allowed the winds of war to buffet them, Scarlett refused to be blown down.

She used “tomorrow is another day” as a refrain to convert despair into hope. No matter what happened, she remained empowered.

While I liked Melanie, I loved Scarlett, not least because she caught the attention of the roguish Rhett. He was my second book boyfriend (the first being Aragorn, of course). He was the rake with a heart of gold. A man’s man who refused to give his heart until he met the woman who was his equal.

After reading Gone with the Wind, my desire to become a novelist grew ten-fold. I loved Margaret Mitchell’s writing and wished with all my heart I could write that eloquently. I’ve been working at it ever since.

For more posts from other writers on this subject, check out the MFRW 52-Week Challenge post for week 5.

What I would do if I couldn’t be a writer — #MFRWAuthor

When I was a preteen, my sister and I had a friend with whom we frequently had sleepovers. During these nights, we’d pose “what if” questions to each other: What would you choose if you were on a desert island and could only eat one food? What would you choose if you could only listen to one song? What if you were tied up and couldn’t move?

For me, these questions always posed an interesting challenge, but the issue wasn’t deciding how to whittle my options down to one. And yeah, the tied up question was weird.

What it made me want to do was rebel against the restrictions. My problem wasn’t how to pick one option to live with forever — kind of like marrying one food or drink — it was how can I circumvent the rules? I missed the point of the question: picking a favourite food/drink/song. These questions threatened my control. My knee-jerk reaction was to fight them.

If I were tied up and couldn’t move, I’d blink my eyes. There. I moved.

This is my long-winded way of saying that the question of what I would do if I couldn’t be a writer triggered that knee-jerk response.

What would stop me from writing? Paralysis wouldn’t. With today’s technology, I could get around even that. Lack of money hasn’t stopped me and neither has a shortage of time. Whatever restrictions exist, I work around them. Or plough through them.

I suppose if somehow I had no outlet for publishing my work, it would mean I couldn’t be a published author, but I could still write. I’d write for myself. It’s something I’m compelled to do, not something I choose to do.

I guess the real question asked here is what would my job be if I couldn’t publish my work? Editing doesn’t count as writing, so I’d do more of that. I can’t imagine not working with words in some way. Even when I did software/web development fulltime, I wrote. Even when I didn’t publish anything, I wrote, so, you see, I’ve already been there and done that.

You can take the publishing away from the author, but you can’t take the writing away from the writer.

For more posts from other writers on this subject, check out the MFRW 52-Week Challenge post for week 4.

How Much of Myself is in My Writing — #MFRWauthor

Write what you know. Don’t make your characters a reflection of you. Find your voice. Stick to the rules.

The list of dos and don’ts for writers is a long and contradictory one. Some encourage creativity while others seem to stifle it. How much of the writer can go into a piece of work?

For myself, I consider the first draft the “me” draft. I write for myself.  I write what I would want to read and make it unfold the way I want it to go. I own it. All of it. Style, tone, voice, story.

Something strange happens during the writing process, though. The characters take over, and, while some of them might share certain beliefs or values with me, they are all individuals. They have histories that differ from mine. The heroes are tougher and more courageous. The villains, of course, are nastier. My characters all grew up in different families and each has a unique history. Yes, I know I made them up, but to write the truth, I have to understand who my fake people are and what shaped them.

Daniela in Injury had an abusive childhood. She grew up believing her father abandoned her, leaving her with a mother who resented her. This helped shape her. It also trashed her self-esteem. When the truth comes out, it shakes her to the core but forces her to reevaluate everything she’s ever believed about herself.

Like me, Gillian in Gillian’s Island is an introvert, but unlike me, she grew up in a small town. Her parents were both killed in an accident. She’s been burned by love so badly she’s afraid to give her heart again to anyone. This is the fear that isolates her.

Carolyn in The Valiant Chronicles has an interesting career as a psychic medium. I drew on my training and experience to write about what she does and how she does it. That’s where writing what you know comes in handy. She looks down and to the right when she does mediumship because that’s what I do, and she receives messages through the traditional channels (for an explanation of that, read my article on psychic communication.) Her gift, however, is far stronger and more readily available than mine.

When I write scenes that include the paranormal or have a supernatural flavour, I write from first-hand experience. I’ve done paranormal investigations, studied the paranormal, and once woke up to see the spirit of a man standing next to my bed. Of course, I fictionalize and exaggerate for my stories. A walk-in isn’t the way I portray it in the novel Walk-In. The concept, in new age circles, describes a new soul taking over a person’s body so the original soul can vacate. To make a suspenseful story, I had to evil it up a great deal.

As a former software and web developer with ten years in the industry, I have that to draw on as well. Much of what I write pulls from skills, knowledge, and experience I already have. For the rest, I do research (write what you know; research to write what you don’t know) and even that’s coloured by who I am.

While the first draft is all for my reading pleasure, once I launch into revisions, it’s all for the readers. The final draft retains my essence, but I want it to be a pleasure for others to read. That means weeding out the purple prose, wordiness, or whatever else is wrong with it. It takes a team, which includes beta readers and editors, to accomplish all that.

Of course, not everyone will enjoy what I write, just as I don’t always enjoy everything others write. Sometimes, the style doesn’t suit or the genre isn’t to taste or the themes don’t resonate. There’s a lot that can turn a novel that’s a hit for one reader into a miss for another reader. I can only hope that those who would enjoy reading my work will find it.

For more posts from other writers on this subject, check out the MFRW 52-Week Challenge post for week 3.