What to Write

As a novice writer, an author told me “to write what you know.” Because I’m an organizer, I compiled a list of stuff I knew. Every morning for the next week, I read through the topics in my search for inspiration, but not one lit my passion or sent me running to the computer with an urge to let my fingers dance across the keyboard as I composed the next great American novel.Ottilia Scherschel

The idea of writing gnawed at me. I woke a few mornings later with a sore jaw. My desire had given me TMJ. Some of you may know that’s the fancy name for what happens when you grind your teeth in your sleep. Great! Becoming a writer could involve buying some expensive mouth guard before I’d even produced a single story. I quickly came to the conclusion it would be less stressful and a lot cheaper to write about what I wanted to know, about those things that lived in my imagination.

Since I was raised on mystery and adventure stories, my fantasies ran to action a la 007 and Indy. Neither of them was about to show up on my doorstep and invite me to tag along, so I decided to write about the kinds of things they did. Haven’t you dreamed about riding across China on a motorcycle or solving a mysterious disappearance? I have and made those dreams come true in my first manuscript.

Everywhere I look nowadays I see a what–an idea for a story. I like to research and dig up unusual tidbits to include in my work. I enjoy creating characters and their worlds. But the real fun starts when the characters and their worlds collide. I guarantee when I put a guy and gal on the page together sparks will fly, and there will be love. After all, what would an adventure be without romance?

 

Kathleen Harrington-What’s Next

 

Kathleen HarringtonAs readers look back at the stories I’ve told, it might appear that I’ve moved without rhyme or reason from the American West in the early 1800’s to Regency London to medieval Scotland. But I know better. The backstory or the future events in each adventure – or the research itself – led me to another time, another place.

Sometimes outside influences provided the jumping-off point. For example, after reading Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, I decided to write a “journey” tale with unusual and, hopefully, fascinating and memorable characters. This goal evolved into my first book, Cherish the Dream, which took my readers on a topographical expedition across the unmapped prairies of the early US. From this initial story came my interest in the Northern Cheyenne, leading to Warrior Dreams and Dream Catcher, both set in Montana. In addition, Montana Angel came from my research there.

Not all my stories are linked in some way. Sunshine and Shadow, a Georgian romance, and Promise Me, a Regency, arose from my love of the writings of Georgette Heyer.

Most evolved, however, with an intangible thread running through them. The Dreamseekers Series brought my twin heroines to England in Fly with the Eagle, and Scotland in Enchanted by You. My research of Scotland piqued my interest in the history of the Highland Clans, evolving into my latest trilogy. The stories of three Scottish ship captains in The MacLean Groom, Lachlan’s Bride, and Black Raven’s Lady resulted in my captivation with sailing ships.

So what’s next?

I’m presently researching a series about a Boston family of shipbuilders and sea captains set in the early 1800’s – around the early U.S. Navy, of Barbary Pirates, of merchant ships sailing to the Orient and returning with cargoes of extraordinary worth. On the high seas, our young nation couldn’t compete with the power and sway of the British navy and its mighty ships-of-the-line. But Yankee ingenuity and courage took us to the far-off edges of the world and back again.

This is the time of the birth-pangs of our fledging Republic, when no one knew for certain if our country and our Constitution would survive past the first few years.

Kathleen lives in Southern California with her American Bulldog, Auron. Her latest release, BLACK RAVEN’S LADY, Book 3 of the Highland Lairds Trilogy, is now on sale.

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Take me there…with Katie Keelor

Val MilletteIf I didn’t live here, I’d want to live there.  If I didn’t live now, I’d want to live then.  If I didn’t do this, I’d want to do that.  Curiosity about history and wanting to know what happened in the past…you become a time-traveler. As a writer, add travel to historic locations only fuels the fire.  Every place I visit I want to know what it would be like to live in that era and there’s where the time-traveling takes place.  It’s such fun!

My first “real” trip took me to the legendary St. Winifred’s Well in Holywell, Wales.  Later trips found me dazzled by the Book of Kells and the famous library at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, swooning over the magnificent architecture of John Ryland’s Library in the industrial manufacturing city of Manchester, England and later to my grandparents’ birthplace in Blackburn, Lancashire—one of the most important cotton producers in the world and just one of the hundreds of cities, small towns and villages where the majority of the work force kept the cotton mills operating in the 1800’s.  For “fun” I traveled with a good friend on a tour of Regency-era London, Bath and Brighton and other locations in-between where the passage of time has been overlooked and history preserved.  My last “real” trip took me to never-to-be-forgotten sights of Paris and the silk weaving center of Lyon, France.

Closer to home, I love going to Sacramento.  Yes, I have family living there but you will find that our state’s capitol is such an interesting place.  Before each visit my son’s usual question to me is “What do you want to do while you’re here?”  and unless I have something special in mind, my usual answer is “Let’s do something you haven’t done yet.”

His response to a recent challenge resulted in a trip downtown to the Old Sacramento Historic Park and the “underground tour.”  Another weekend living the past during “Gold Rush Days” was all it took for me to get the idea for my current novel “Swept Away.”

Today, California is experiencing a serious drought.  Not so in the mid-1800’s.  In the winter of 1861-62, heavy snowfall and 45 days of rain inundated the city of Sacramento breaking through the levees with momentous flooding.  A fantastical idea came out of this catastrophe—in 1864 the citizens banded together to raise the streets 21 feet higher than the river’s edge, or 9 feet higher than the street level. Close your eyes.  Can you imagine watching the state’s capitol building balancing on hundreds of screw jacks being raised less than an inch a day?

I can.  Take me there…please.

Barb DeLong – Writing Magic

I didn’t start out writing paranormal romance. As a youngster, I loved all the westerns that were on TV at the time. Dating myself, I know. You’d think a western historical romance would be in my writing future, and I did devour a lot of those as a reader in later years. Horses and hunky cowboys – what’s not to like?  iOCX7EjJdTlDkbSF5Y9mWhIJ_9xkZa0jUU7XoajAWLo

Most of my romance writing life until fairly recently has been in the contemporary romance genre. A story about a big-time lawyer, burnt out and needing a change, goes to work on a Kentucky thoroughbred breeding farm. A harried widow and mother of three kids gets kicked out of her rented home along with a pregnant Afghan hound, a sweet boa constrictor and various other pets. A mushroom researcher in the Pacific Northwest, in danger of losing her grant, is aided by an undercover cop and a very rascally raccoon.

If you didn’t notice, animals of all sorts make their way into my stories. When I finally turned to paranormal romance, animals came along for the ride. I’ve read many paranormals, sci-fi’s, fantasies, and got my fill of werewolves, vampires, hybrids thereof and other weird and wonderful creations. Most of these stories were dark, serious, world-as-we-know-it threatening. When I came across the light-hearted and humorous, I loved it. One of the first books I read where I laughed out loud was Jill Barnett’s Bewitching. I loved Jill’s slightly inept witch. This is what I wanted to write–paranormals with a light-hearted touch.

I watched Hocus Pocus, The Good Witch, Practical Magic, and other iconic humorous movies about witches and how they wielded their powers for good or mischief. I read more light-hearted paranormals. I took notes, studied the craft of writing funny. Took more notes. Ideas swirled like the ether rising from a smoldering cauldron. My series, Charmed by a Witch, was born. Book One in the series, my current work-in-progress called Charm’d, is about a witch who can communicate tele-magically with animals. She has a ferret familiar with powers of her own. She can disappear and appear at will.

I find in animals a pureness of spirit, a sweet innocence and guileless honesty. They surprise and delight me. That they should follow me into my paranormals was only natural. My quirky witch and her animal entourage make putting fingers to keyboard a happy occasion.

Romance and Writing What I Know- Jill Jaynes

Jill Jaynes

A wise and wonderful Romance author, Maggie Osbourne, once said that as writers “we write the stories we are compelled to tell.” She said that most writers who look back over the books they have written will find all their stories are built on the same theme, and they often don’t even realize it. These can be themes like- second chance at love; forgiveness and redemption; healing family relationships. The list goes on.

This is because it is human nature to try to work out that kernel of a problem whose solution eludes us, or is so central to our lives it has shaped us into the people we are.

So, lucky me, as writer I have a perfect outlet for working these things out. In writing, we call it passion. I write the story that is in my heart.

Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader,” and this is more essential for Romance authors than authors of almost any other genre.

I know I am only telling a story about fictional people, but you, my Romance reader, are along for the emotional journey. And if I’m going to provide a true, honest emotional journey that you can identify with, see yourself in, then I have to start with me.

I have to bare my soul (maybe more than a little) and share my emotional reality. When I embrace the emotion as I write the scene, feel the feelings with the character and put that bravely onto the page, I know that I can evoke these same feelings in the person reading it. If I side-step the emotion, if I’m not honest about it, you, dear reader, will not buy in. You won’t care about my character and their struggle- after all why should you, since I clearly don’t?

It takes guts to “bleed on the page,” but really, that’s what I’m here for. I love stories filled with emotion and heart, and if it means I need to start with mine, then I will take that other excellent writing advice and write what I know.

Meet Carrie Singer

Carrie Singer

I was raised by gypsies.

We moved back and forth between California and Nebraska, town to town, numerous times. My parents were on their own adventures which meant I and seven siblings were along for the ride. Growing up playing in either nearby orange groves or corn fields it was quite an journey. My father was a master storyteller. He could make my cousins and I believe anything. We still laugh about the story of him being blood brother to the Teton Sioux. One of my cousins labels his stories Truish. Because there would always be some truth in there.

Fortunately there was always a library near by and books became my friends. Tolstoy and Dickens, biographies and science fiction. But when I discovered Jane Austen the trajectory of my imagination changed. At a very early age I had started writing songs, poetry and short stories. Now my friends and I wrote stories for each other of adventure and romance reading them aloud at slumber parties.

After college I went on to work in the health care field in Radiology. I loved the technical aspect of the job with all the new medical advances. And I love talking to people to be able to hear their stories.

I loved Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels. And decided, AH, that’s what I want to be able to emulate. Adventure and comedy. What could be better?

Romantic comedies were always my favorite movies. French Kiss is an all time favorite Showing the complex relationships men and women have. The comedy in certain situations and that love can be found through laughter. It was relatable to my own life.

Once I fell in love with romance novels the desire to write hit me. I have been a member of RWA and the Orange County Chapter for many years. I am presently working on a RomCom that travels from the Bower’s Museum in Santa Ana CA to Paris, France. Along with the help of some magic.

I live in a small town in Southern California surrounded by hills where I am devoted to my two children and am now grandma to 4 delightful grandchildren.