Posts Tagged With: characters

I’m a very sensuous kind of girl.

Before you think I’m about to make a disturbing confession, let me say I am speaking of the senses. Touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound, I love them all. Now, I don’t claim to be an expert in the art of crafting a story and I think the day that I do is the day I stop learning. But nothing can bring more perception to the reader and to the world we are creating better than the senses.

When I smell cinnamon and spice, I think of Christmas and all that comes with the holiday season. Cold weather, a limited number of shopping days, baking, decorating, family gatherings, and gift giving, all rolled up into one heavenly scent. But that might just be me. For you, that same fragrance might remind you of your Great Uncle Phil and the air freshener he sprayed upon leaving the bathroom after a 30 minute hiatus with the newspaper and the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. And for that, I am truly sorry.

Not everyone has had the same experiences or been moved to tears by the same music. But when our senses are stimulated, we become a part of the story and we can travel to places we’ve never been. Even if we’ve never been near the ocean, we can imagine how the salty air might taste on our lips. We can feel the gritty sand polishing our bare feet as we walk along the beach, hear seagulls squawking in the distance, and see the sun melting into the water like an orange Dreamsicle on a hot summer day.

In movies, the background music or film score tells us how to feel: fast-paced and edgy for a fight or flight scene, soft or whimsical for a love scene. And when the orchestra of music dies down to one single instrument, and then slowly rises with intensity, we know for sure it’s time to curl into ourselves and hold our breath because “the bad guy” is about to rear his ugly head.

In writing, we don’t have the luxury of awesome sound effects and music. Therefore, it’s up to the author to get the reader’s heart pounding when the main character finds herself lost in a creepy forest, on a dark and stormy night, heading towards the rushing sound she can hear in the distance, hoping she stumbles upon the highway and not the 50 foot waterfall she spotted from the helicopter just before it crashed–she can still smell the burning fuel. She covers her mouth to filter the air from the heavy smoke and warm thick liquid oozes from her lip. The taste of rusted metal and copper pennies trickles down her throat and she gasps—blood. **insert dramatic music here**

Categories: writing | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

How writing saved me.

It’s been nearly four years since I wrote MAGESTIC DREAMS and what started out as a “story” for my daughter (twelve years old at the time), has now become the novel that brought me back to life.

It’s no secret, my daughter loves books. She is a hopeless romantic (like me), and she won’t read a book that doesn’t have a hint of romance.  That being said, she really digs the magic (fantasy), mystery, and danger in her YA fiction. We’d talk about the stories, what she liked, what she hated, and what she would have done different had she written it.  I have (and still do) read a lot of the same books and her critique is usually right on.  So, when I told her I could write her a story that had all the elements she craved, I was a little skeptical, but she wasn’t.

I had an idea for a storyline but I didn’t have a plan, an outline, or a clue, so I just started writing.  A few weeks into the project, something magical happened.  These characters that had come from my imagination suddenly became real.  A plan would not have helped me because I wouldn’t have stuck to it anyway.  Many times, the characters would take my hand and lead me through the events that would unfold.  And I followed.  Every time I sat down to write, whether it was 11 o’clock at night, or 10 in the morning, I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next.  One day, while sitting on the front porch with my husband, I read him my latest chapter.  He looked at me and smiled when he said, “Honey, that’s it! That’s the end.”  My heart fell to my feet.  How could this be the end?  I wasn’t ready to let them go, I was too attached and I had to know more.  So, I vowed to continue the story in a second (and third) book, which I did, but that is for another blog post.

I researched how to make a paperback book, printed my manuscript, sewed the packets together, glued the spine, and created a cover.  Six months from the day I started, I handed my daughter MAGESTIC DREAMS in book form (and completely unedited **OOPS**).  She loved it, typos and all.  After being passed around to a few friends and family members, all of whom stoked my ego, I began to think about finding an agent to get my book published.  I was not in a hurry, for there was a TON of editing that had to be done.  Editing is like a job, it’s work, so I slowly pecked away until I eventually let it sit for months at a time.

Then tragedy came in the form of a phone call, on the very day my 17-year-old son and his best friend had ventured out of state on their very first road trip.  The Georgia State Troopers were trying to get in touch with us about a fatal car crash.  After a lifetime wait of 45 minutes, our worst nightmare was realized.  Our son, Justin, was killed instantly when the car he was riding in hit a tree.  His best friend, Adam, passed the next morning.  On June 2nd, 2010, our world stopped. There were no timelines, no plans, and no answers, just this pain in my heart that took my breath away and brought a never-ending flow of tears.  Even now, as I write this blog, I can feel the ache.  Though it is further from the surface, it is always there, and I suspect it always will be.  I spent the next year in a fog.  Watching Justin and Adam’s awesome group of friends finish their senior year of high school was bittersweet. I love those kids and I am so proud of them!

So, how did MAGESTIC DREAMS save me?  I didn’t care about that book anymore.  It just didn’t seem to matter.  My God, I’ve just lost my son, who cares about a story I wrote 3 years ago?

Several months after the accident, my sister-in law, Kelly, as well as my dear friend, Kelly (*funny* two Kellies), asked me if I found it “odd” that I had written the book before the accident, that maybe I was somehow meant to write it.  I had to admit, there were some pretty incredible happenings during our time of sorrow that seemed to be intertwined in the story.  No, there is no tragic car accident, and I didn’t predict my son’s death, but there is hope and that hope sparked a new life in me.  Instead of allowing my thoughts to take me back to the same old question of why, I read MAGESTIC DREAMS from cover to cover, edited like crazy, and sought publication.

I had a few good nibbles.  One agent in particular loved the premise of the story but requested I make a few changes.  I tried.  But the changes didn’t feel right, so I rebelled.  After a long talk with my husband, we decided to forgo the agent.  (Easy for him to say when I had to do all the work!) There would be no three-book deal complete with a new boat, but he didn’t care.  He believed in me and that was all that mattered.

So now, I have reached the end (*whew* finally).  MAGESTIC DREAMS is now available in paperback on Amazon.com and will be available soon in Kindle format.  Barnes and Nobles will be my next venture but give me some time.  Book Two is in the works and it will be a milestone for me when I can get back to writing the last half.  This book launching takes some serious effort!

In closing, I would just like to share a little bit of that hope I was talking about earlier.  If you haven’t read the book yet, you might not get it.  For those of you that have, I hope this will give you something to believe in!

The morning the book went live on Amazon, I had conflicting feelings.  I was happy, of course, but did I have the right to be?  After all, I couldn’t share this with my son.  Would he be proud of me for finally finishing?  I sat on the front porch, not sure whether or not I was going to laugh, or cry.  I did neither.  I just sat there, smiling as I stared at the yellow flower that had bloomed overnight.  One yellow flower.  You see, days after Justin’s death, a single yellow flower bloomed beneath the shade of a pine tree that was surrounded by a thick brush.  Later that winter, we cleared the area and made a garden.  We call it Justin’s Garden.

Categories: Why I write | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

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