Books about Writers

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I am preparing to make a major change in my life. I’ve been thinking about it for over a year.  I’ve been imagining what my new life will look like.

In my reading, I came across two books that prompted further research on the topic of What Does a Full-time Author’s Life Look Like?

The first one I read was Hemmingway’s A Moveable Feast. This was non-fiction. Then, as I was re-reading an old favorite, In the Midnight Rain  by Barbara Samuel, I realized the heroine of this novel was a full-time author.  Both books mentioned the writing schedule.

So I Googled/Goodreads-ed “books about writers” to see what I could glean. The answer: not much.

I read: The Accidental Tourist (Anne Tyler); Swimming Home (Deborah Levy); Cakes and Ale (Somerset Maugham).  Not what I was looking for. Then I re-read other books on my shelf and stumbled across more authors mentioning their writing schedules: Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence;  Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes. John Mortimer writes a novelist character in Paradise PostponedThe World According to Garp (John Irving). And of course Stephen King’s On Writing, The Shining, and Bag of Bones. I waded through The Brontes by Juliet Baker, which was a mistake because I’m looking for glimpses of a writing life, not an analysis of one.

Any suggestions?

Analyzing Other Authors

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Last month, or maybe the month before, I started re-reading JD Robb’s In Death series and making notes. I also purchased all the books I didn’t have, so I now have an up-to-date library of the series. It’s important because I do go back and re-read books I love.

For those unfamiliar with the series, the books are futuristic police procedurals. Yes, there is romance, but the primary story is the police procedural. The cop (Eve Dallas) and the (reformed) con (Roarke).

I started an Excel worksheet with a spreadsheet for each title. I realized about half-way through the series that I should have made better notes. Now I’ll have to re-read all the titles again to make better spreadsheets.  Life is full of tribulations.

I started re-reading because I wanted to see how her Nora-ness handles an ensemble cast. My current WIP, which is unlike anything I’ve done before, has an ensemble cast of characters that confuses the dickens out of one of my critique partners. I keep trying to explain that I am not writing a romance and I’m not writing a small town series.

I’ve been amused and/or intrigued by the author’s vision of the future. The series starts in 2058. A couple of examples include:

  • Discs-Everyone transfers data to discs, which may have been the rage when the series began, but now it’s flash drives. I’m sure by 2058 there will be something else.
  • Talking Cars-Eve Dallas, the female protagonist, plugs addresses into her car and the dashboard gives her directions, etc. So does my car! I feel very Dallas-esque when my dash tells me, “Toll booth.”
  • Tubes of soft drinks-I love this idea, instead of cans or bottles.
  • Real cow/pig/chicken/egg/coffee/sugar-because of climate change these commodities are rare and thrilling to the characters, who get to partake because Roarke, the male protagonist is one of the wealthiest people on or off planet, frequently feeds Eve’s co-workers.
  • Off planet correctional facilities-putting prisons in space? Intriguing concept.

There are also inconsistencies that niggle, but nothing major.

  • At least two characters’ names change from book to book.
  • There is an assumption that because Roarke is Irish that he knows Catholicism. But Roarke’s upbringing certainly didn’t include the Church’s rites of passage, so he wouldn’t be as conversant as he sometimes is.
  • Eve mentions several times that religion wasn’t taught in the state orphanages in which she grew up, but sometimes, when she’s not asking Roarke questions, she does mention things that a person unfamiliar with Christianity might not know.

The best thing about the series is how the characters grow from book to book. They learn from their mistakes.

I had started another popular series of books around the same time my sister urged me to read JD Robb. I eventually stopped reading those books because the characters never changed. They were awesome characters in the beginning, but after 10 or books, I wanted to see them learning from their errors instead of the constant buffoonery to which the series evolved.


My Favorite Tropes

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Writers, especially authors of genre fiction, love to discuss tropes. Tropes are those “commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works.”

One of my author friends is completely hooked on trapped in a cabin during a blizzard with a stranger.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • rain/thunderstorms
  • first kisses in the rain
  • old houses
  • haunted houses
  • twins, especially evil twins
  • secret identity heroes
  • jazz
  • south of France
  • Tuscany
  • Greece
  • wine
  • food

What are the story hooks that pull you in?


Release Day! (And A Free Book!)

At long last, release day for Besieged by the Moon is almost here.  There’s still time to preorder to get your copy first thing Wednesday, April 21.

This was a challenging book to write, but I’m proud of the finished product. I’m grateful my publisher and editor allowed me to reset deadlines on multiple occasions.  Thank you Debby and Char for helping me make Besieged the best story it could be.

To my reader: thanks for your patience. Enjoy!

P.S. Betrayed by the Moon the first book in the trilogy, continues to be FREE  through the 20th.

Music: Besieged by the Moon Playlist

In keeping with my habit of creating a playlist for my works-in-progress, here is what I listened to to keep me in the story of Besieged by the Moon.

No Roots (Alice Merton)
Night Moves (Bob Seger)
Iris (The Goo-Goo Dolls)
Promise Land (Hannah Miller)
Broken Arrow (Robbie Roberstson)
Doctor My Eyes (Jackson Browne)
Don’t Lie to Me (Barbra Streisand)
Hallelujah (Pentatonix)
Fighting the Decree (Brittney Mitchell)
People Have the Power (Patti Smith)
Sound of Silence (Disturbed)
Miles (Christina Perri)
Daylight Again/Cost of Freedom (Crosby, Stills, & Nash)
Universal Soldier (Donovan)
A Little Bit More (Dr. Hook)
Arms (Christina Perri)
One Tin Soldier (The Original Caste)