Wednesday, November 24, 2010


There are so many people on twitter who talk about writing and about writing "their" novel that it can make you think the whole world holds only writers and nothing else. A scary thought, and an intimidating one, if you are striving yourself to find a publisher. But there is a small detail here that I missed out on for a very long time, and it had not even occurred to me that, besides the editing I talked about earlier, there is something else which is quite important to writing, and which many don't seem to achieve.

You have to finish what you started.

That easy, and yet so hard, it seems.

A friend on facebook, when I posted that my novel was finished ( and I MEAN finished; remember, the editing?), told me that her daughter was a writer too, and she had started about thirty projects but never finished anything, and now, after reading my laments, she understood how hard that must be. It is hard. In fact, finishing a novel is the hardest part of it, in my opinion. You have to decide to END your story. And you can't be afraid of that. And you have to find an ending, you have to come all the way around. It feels a bit like bending a tough bough into a hoop. The ends must meet.

One last thing.

I just posted this on twitter: "There are two ways to be a writer. Either you take yourself seriously, or you just aren't."


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just A Brief Word

Don't really have time for this, but this incredible chore of whipping my novel into shape makes me want to say a few words about the whole writing thing. I have never done this before, and I promise I won't repeat it until I am on my book signing tour.

The making of this book is coming to an end in a a couple weeks, that much is certain. I'm done. Just a few more corrections, one more reading, and then I'll have done the best I could with it. It was not an easy process.

When I began writing I had only one scene in my head, the one where Jon and Naomi meet again after all those years and she drops the tray with the plates in the hotel lobby, and everything started out with that. I had no idea where it would lead me, and least of all that it would end with a shooting at the Academy Awards. But there you have it, your characters do what they want once you breathe life into them.

My hubby gave me my first laptop for Christmas three years ago when he could not take my lamenting about not having the right means to write a book. I remember how I clutched the stupid cheap Toshiba thing without any idea how to even open it, and with no knowledge at all about how to use it,  but the first words were written one day after New Year and the first draft was done in July last year. And how proud of myself I was then, thinking I had written a book. The end was still missing, because how do you go on after one of your main characters gets shot, right? Hard choices.

Then the hubby was run over by a car and badly hurt, I got sick with the stupid thing I'm still fighting today even though it is now under control, and with the treatments and the suffering my mind just went away and nothing happened for  a long while. It's true I opened the file every day and stared at my writing, but where imagination should have been there was only something like grey cotton and stupidity. Thank God my older son is a medical doctor, and he made me visit all those specialists and hospitals and got me back in shape, but it took a long while and a lot of whining on twitter, too.

It was July again before my brains finally cleared enough for me to come up with an ending and I could start the editing.

This was a turning point for me.

Writing a story is not writing a novel.

I'm not published yet and I don't know if I ever will, but I now know where the real work in writing lies. It's not the creating of a story in itself, it's the shaping of a book that is the hard part, the endless hours of concentrated and relentless editing, and I'm even now hiding my head in shame at how I sent out the first (unedited!!!) chapters to a publisher on the spur of the moment, so proud of myself and so sure I had written something really worthwhile. I apologize to that publisher from all my heart and ask them to please toss out that mail if they still have it, and, well.... *groan*.

Someone said to me the other day, when I was once again complaining about the dire work of editing, "A first draft is what you want to say and the edited version is what you want others to read." THIS should be engraved on every writer's forehead. Take this to heart, writers. NEVER give anyone your first draft to read if you don't want to end up in a heap of shame on the floor. Trust me. I know. Edit until your eyes and fingers and brains bleed. Kill your darlings. Kill every word, sentence, paragraph and even scene that won't propel the story forward, even if it is the hottest, steamiest love scene or the best dialogue. If it does nothing for the storyline, out it goes. You can always keep your first draft for your own enjoyment if you want.

I have this dream, and as Walt Disney one said, "If you can dream it you can do it." One day, I'll be at the Oscars myself and see the movie they made from my novel nominated there. When (WHEN) I have a publisher I'll make them send me all over the English speaking world to do readings and talks and shake hands and whatever else is necessary to make this novel a bestseller. I'll make both them and myself rich and famous. Others have done it, I can do it too.

And you know why this is? Because I owe it to myself and to all the others who helped me along on my way to ending this book.

My hubby, because he did the housework and went shopping and let me sit here in silence for so very long, for talking me through my phases of misery and self-doubt and writer's block and never gave up faith when mine wavered. And for buying me yet another new laptop when I got uncomfortable with the first one, and two more before he finally lost patience and got me the MacBook that finally made me happy and shut up about computers.

My kids; the older one, because he kicked my butt all the time and his belief in me never weakened, not for one moment. And the kid for having all the patience when lunch was not ready on time.

And my  twitter pals. Most of all Bunny and Leslie who kept telling me that my writing was GREAT AND TO PLEASE SHUT UP WITH THE WHINING ALREADY AND GO ON! And painting pictures for me of how I would go on a reading tour even if no publisher accepted my book and they would set up Tupper Party-like events at their houses and make all their friends buy my novel, even it had to be self-published. And all the others, my so-called "beta readers", the many who read the thing while it was still in the making and urged me to go on, it was lovely and they wanted it all.

Well, folks, here it is. In a few weeks it goes out to a publisher, and I hope it will be accepted. But if not, I still did it for all of you, and I hope you enjoy the read. Thank you all for being my loves and my friends. You gave me my life.

Oh, and one more word: There will be other books from me in the future. So don't despair once you reach the end. ;)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Page 99

The other day someone posted "5 fun ways to promote your book" on twitter, and one of them was to pick page 99 and post it on your blog. The argument was that this far into the novel it would show if your writing was any good or not. So here is my page 99, and now it is up to you to judge. Come one, rip out my heart! :)


“Would you like to, Baby? We could, certainly. Where would you like to go, then?”

His hand was wrapped in her hair, tugging playfully. The bathrobe had fallen open to reveal her legs and bare feet, but she did not mind. They were alone on this deck, hidden from the outside world, onlookers from a balcony set aside from daily life. The water taxi came gliding into the bay, losing height rapidly, doing a slow turn over the harbor to land.

“I don’t know.” Naomi wriggled her toes. “Truly, I can hardly wrap my mind around the wedding thing yet. I’ll believe it when it happens. It seems very unreal. You seem unreal.” He tugged a little harder. “Stop!” she protested, “I know you are here, there’s barely a moment when you let me forget it. But still….”

Her head was bent back and her lips beckoned, the robe slipping from her shoulder to reveal the top of her breasts.

“You look just like Scarlett O’Hara,” Jon said approvingly, “Right before she gets ravished by Rhett. All we’re missing here is Atlanta burning in the background.”

“That’s so like you,” she replied, breathless, “You would even burn a city to get your way.  Think of all those poor Coca Cola shareholders.”

The grip in her hair tightened, pulling her back still a little further. He leaned towards her, lips nearly touching, a dangerous sparkle in his eyes.

“The things you say just to get a little ravishing done here, you impossible chick.”

Naomi strained towards that kiss but he would not give it yet, stretching the moment, reveling in this sweetest of tortures. Waiting for her to plead a little, wanting her to need him, if only for a kiss, only for a touch….

There was a knock on the door, and Jon, without looking up from her, called, “Come in!”

She struggled nicely after that, but he did not let her go right away, disappointed that he was going to miss out on a very exciting moment indeed.

Embarrassment made her squirm and even hit his arm in a futile attempt to make him release her, but Jon grinned and held her tightly to claim the kiss he had wanted all along.

“Oh look! It’s Gone with the Wind all over again!” Sal commented drily.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Morning....

There is this friend on the Diamondville board who likes to write a "Sunday Morning Musing" to entertain herself and us. She tells us about how she has a couple of precious hours to herself then before the family wakes up and the dogs want to go out and she has to make breakfast for her brood, and how nice and silent her house is, and how much she enjoys those moments.

I don't have silent moments on a Sunday because mostly I sleep longest of all. When I creep out of bed my hubby is already doing the washing and the kid has started on one of his xbox games, but on the upside coffee is ready and the place is nice and warm. This year, winter has decided to start early, and the heating needs to go on right away. Have I said I hate winter? Maybe not here, but on twitter, daily I'm sure. Not even the prospect of Christmas helps. Well, it helps a little, but if I had something to say spring would start on the 2nd of January, and no more snow and frost after then please. Only that is when winter really starts, and it looks like this here:

The cat does not like it a lot either. There just aren't enough blankets, woolen socks or mugs of hot chocolate to tide me over. Chicken soup helps, but not every day. The worst part: It's always dark. Not literally, but it seems that way. Where we live, in deep winter you get daylight only for seven hours around Christmas, and that's just not enough. For me. I complain about it a lot. The hubby is a patient and long-suffering man, thankfully. And he agrees, which makes the whining easier. Only it does not help.

My dream is a house with a porch on the beach. Somewhere in Maryland or Virginia would be nice, closer to my friends, closer to summer. I would spend all my days on my porch. I'd have a desk there, overlooking the water, and I'd get up early in the morning, every day, and make coffee and then walk out onto my lovely porch and look out over the water, and the surf would be no more than a graceful white lacing on the pristine beach under the sunrise sky, as pale and shining as the inside of a seashell. A gentle breeze would stir my hair, scented with flowers (from the garden below the porch) and the tang of the ocean. Gulls would lazily glide on that breeze, telling each other their nighttime stories.

A painter called Lee Mothes created this picture, and it feels as if he looked directly into my mind.

My desk is right there, I always write on the porch as long as the weather is fine, and I'm a morning worker, so I settle down with my cup, stare a while longer at the lovely vista and then pick up my writing. The novel is coming along well, small wonder in this serene setting. I'm with my characters in their small town in Norway and watch them discuss their lives, watch them create the musical they will later put on stage and listen how they disentangle all the problems and overcome all the obstacles that have kept them apart for so long, and then I throw some more of all that at them, because I can. After all I'm their creator.

The nicest thing about this fantasy is that I get to write the entire day. Miraculously, there is no housework. Or maybe I have a housekeeper? All I have to do is care for a steady supply of coffee and get some lunch for myself if I feel like it. There's nothing else that I need. No music, no people, no telephone. Not until evening at least. In the evening,  The Bunny comes around.

I think we share the house. It must be so, because there are dogs around, and I would not keep a dog on my own.

With the Bunny comes the Party Time. For a while we hang out on the porch and drink a couple of Margaritas or so, and then she suggests we put on the skates... oh no not again. But the Bunny really loves skating, and good thing we have a wrap-around porch. She goes all around the house a couple of times, drink in hand, calling, "Watch out, watch out!" and then she does her dangerous triple twist... ok ok so I put on mine too, but I'm not as good and run over the dog's tail and that's not good at all....

I'm sure a couple of friends come over later. I've just managed to talk the Bunny out of going to the movies and into lighting up the barbecue instead, and you might think they would smell it all the way over to DC (from Virginia), for here comes Leslie and brings along her poppers, and Pea must have senses it too, she made the jump from Alabama. There is a faint scrabbling from under the bed and Emerenta crawls out and complains that we are again cooking her friends (she is Vegetarian), but there are plenty of veggies for her too. Being who she is she takes out the surfboard and runs down to the water, and she calls to us that it is lovely and warm, and to come down and join her, but hell, we are too old and... frumpy for bathing suits.

We watch the sun set behind us over the hills (a romantic and literary invention; I have no idea if there are hills in Virginia, close to the shore) and turn the steaks on the fire, and someone asks if there are marshmallows for later, and now the music begins too.

Oh, and since we are internet-savvy we also blip and tweet what we are listening to and doing.

And it never gets cold. We spend the entire night out there on our porch and drink and talk and laugh and we watch the Sunday sunrise, and no one needs to go inside for a jacket.

So here you have it, this is my version of the Sunday morning musings. I know where my place is.

PS: The Bunny want me to add that she was out all day at her studio crafting her lovely jewelry.