Monday, May 26, 2014

Random Stuff I've Learned, Writing this Book

First thing--Happy Memorial Day. To all who've served, to all who still serve, to those who are forgotten and those whose memory aches inside us. To those who've come home and those who still have to deploy, thank you.

Today is my turn to blog, and I have no time. When I’m pushed for time on my own blog, I love to make a random post. Just stuff I think about.

Right now, I feel as if I'm swimming in quicksand toward a deadline for the first book in a series I’ve set in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, so I thought I’d mention some random things I’ve learned while writing it.

Love Adding the Real Title
First, my lovely editor, Victoria came up with a great title for it last week. It’s called Now She’s Back. I’m so excited. Just in case you're reading this, Victoria, thanks! I’m pretty bad at titles, and mine were not earth shattering. This one works on many levels in the book because the heroine ran away from trouble when she was younger, and now she’s back, she’s stirring up plenty!

Writin' Music
Next random thought--my playlist. Sometimes, I write with television on in the background, but this book has worked better with music. Here we go:
  • Several by Florence and the Machine: “Seven Devils,” “Spectrum,” “Never Let Me Go,” “Howl,” “Cosmic Love,” and “Bedroom Hymns." The drama, all the lovely drama!
  • “Adore You,” by Miley Cyrus. (I know—I’m not the target demographic.) This song is so full of longing. I find myself singing it as I walk through the neighborhood. (Feel bad for the guy who’s usually lounging on his patio while I’m strolling up the turn-in for our subdivision!)
  • I love Marvin Gaye! So: “Inner City Blues” and “Got to Give It Up Pt. 1” Something about the latter just makes me happy and hopeful. I totally get being the wallflower, anxious not to show off my fine moves, but willing, just in case there’s love to be found on the dance floor! Hmmm. I’ve never known—is there a Pt. 2?
  • Next, Ne-Yo. Oh my goodness, if you haven’t listened to Ne-Yo, you are missing the ultimate in smooth! “Beautiful Monster,” “Let Me Love You,” “Unconditional,” “Closer,” and possibly my favorite, “Mad.” (That’s a song about relationships, for sure.)
  • Ne-Yo introduced me to Tim McGraw in their song, “She Is.” Oh, no. I’ll be singing that for the rest of today! I need to look into this Tim McGraw fellow!
  • And finally, by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera, “Say Something.” Wow. Heartrending. Perfect for climbing into emotions.

Gratuitous, Random Pic of Kitten, Stalking Fitbit!
Which is my next random point. I always have a hard time with beginnings. This book, especially had a false start. What I submitted to Victoria didn’t work, but she got me on track with a few salient questions. I rewrote the synopsis, and that worked, but then I panicked in the first chapter. I could not get what I wanted. Instant emotion.

The book is set in a place I love that holds my family's history since the Revolutionary War. We are a tree with long (quirky) roots. My heart is happy each time I see those mountains in orange and red and burgundy, with the sun tilting to lay down Autumn shadows. I put my heroine in a house I love, and she had real issues to face, but I was writing all around the point. Then, after about a week, I slipped my own grandmother into the story. Suddenly, love flooded those pages and the words came. Grandma always saved me when I needed her help most.

Last bit of random—you can write a book at the speed of light, grasping for emotion, and holding a kleenex at the same time. I have a summer cold, and I can’t stop coughing. You know you’re in the book when you’re furious because you have to stop to cough.

I hope if you’re writers, you’re finding that kind of passion for your work, and if you’re readers, I hope you’ll find the love I have for all the people who are vitally alive in my small, fictional town of Bliss, Tennessee. I’m eager to finish on time, but I’m already missing the people I’ll have to let go of to write The End.

Give us one bit of random information about yourselves, something that just strikes you as you read this, and I'll choose a winner. The winner will have to wait a while, but I'd love to offer a copy of the holiday anthology that Melinda Curtis and Anna J. Stewart and I will have out in November.


12 comments:

  1. Anna, My random thoughts about today is how quiet it was in my neighborhood when I went for my morning walk. Generally there are a lot of people riding bikes and walking dogs. This morning it was me. But I get up early no matter if it's the holiday or not. I've loved my two trips through the Smoky Mountains. Looking forward to your books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Roz, it was the same here, and Sunday, too, as if everyone has gone somewhere on vacation. I forgot you'd traveled through the Smokies. If you find yourself visiting them again, I'd love to meet you up there!

      Delete
  2. Anna - my thought isn't so random because it came to me after reading your blog. You write so well, and I can see emotion steaming out of your ears! (Not a romantic image, but you know what I mean.) How completely different we all are, how different our ancestries are and how diverse the places that hold our hearts, yet we relate so well because we're all trying to do the same thing - put that emotion and affection into a story that will enthrall and hopefully enlighten someone else. I, also, am looking forward to your books. (I'm a New Englander who came west by the northern route. Never passed through Tennessee. Maybe someday.)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Muriel, how kind you are! And I'll definitely take emotion steaming out of my ears! You're so right about the differences in how we got here, but we try to write stories that touch readers, as we want to be touched when we're reading. I guess the differences form our voices?

    My husband's family is from Washington state. In fact, we're hoping to visit Oregon later this year. And--a funny coincidence--my mother-in-law worked for Pacific Bell, and the husband and I spent the first three years of our marriage in Maine. We've been hanging out in almost the same places! ;-) Thanks to you and Roz for commenting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anna - if you come to Oregon, do call me! 503-325-5683. You'd love Astoria. Astute observation about the difference forming our voices.

      Delete
    2. Muriel, if we make it there, I'll definitely call! I've always wanted to see Astoria. And also, thanks for talking a little writing with me! ;-) We'll have to do more of that if the beloved and I end up out your way!

      Delete

  4. I've not heard of Ne-Yo. I'll google YouTube and see what I can find. Thanks for the suggestion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pamela, I hope you found something you enjoyed. I'm really fond of "She Is" with Tim McGraw right now, but I love the lyrics in Ne-Yo's songs as much as his voice!

      Delete
  5. Those were a few random thoughts? Girl, I'm constantly amazed at the depth of things that go on in your summer cold-driven head. Best of luck racing toward the finish-line!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha! Mel, thanks for the good wishes--and for spending so much time, not being annoyed by my overactive thoughts! ;-) (Can't even blame it all on the summer cold!)

      Delete
  6. I forgot I needed to choose a winner. Since there weren't a lot of comments, I'd love to send a copy of the anthology to Pamela and Muriel and Roz. I'd include you, Mel, but I imagine you'll have plenty of your own copies! ;-)

    Could you all let me know if you'd prefer digital or printed? I can't send them until they arrive, but I'll get them to you then! Thanks for the comments!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey, Anna! I'm super late but just wanted to say that I loved your random thoughts lol, and that kitty pic is adorable. Mine are stalkers too ;) and have enough nerve to stalk our dogs who are at least 4 times their size lol.

    ReplyDelete