Monday, June 22, 2009

Writers in Their Own Words--GCC

I've got a fun new book to tout today by my buddy Sheila Curran.

Everyone She Loved is getting some boffo press like:

Penelope Cameron May's unusual last request sets off the action in this riveting novel of love and friendship, betrayal and lies. Sheila Curran draws the reader in and this inventive book won't let go. Prepare to be surprised and moved. I read it in one delicious gulp.
Masha Hamilton, The Camel Bookmobile, The Distance Between Us

'Everyone She Loved' was the voice inside my head - at a time when I first contemplated my own mortality ... this could have been my husband, my girlfriends and my children ... it raises every emotion and suppressed fear within us all, with a clarity that is both deeply uncomfortable and yet stridently beautiful. Julz Graham, Dimensions

To whet your appetite even more, here's Sheila in her own words:

1.) How did you come up with the idea for this book?

Books are born in strange places. This one was conceived in the front seat of a car.

No, not that kind of conception. My friend Julianna was driving. Our daughters were chatting in the back seat. I was talking about an article I’d written for McCall’s about two young girls in Arizona whose parents had died within months of each other. “Did you know that in some states, if there isn’t a will, the kids can be sent to foster care?”

The girls in my story weren’t so unfortunate. Their mother had named her best friends, another pair of sisters, as the children’s guardians. ”Just make sure you chose someone to take over if something happens to you.”

From there we talked about difficult it would be to chose which couple among one’s siblings and friends would best be suited for the job. Where did one couple’s permissiveness slide into overindulgence, another’s consistency into unbearable strictness? The idea of dying was hard enough, but figuring out which couple would most love your kids in your absence? Impossible.

We paused in our conversation just long enough for my brain to settle on yet another catastrophic possibility. “You know what would be worse?” I asked. “What if I died and John (my husband) married someone awful? I’d have no control at all!”

Another pause. “Unless,” I continued. “I could get him to agree that if he remarried, my sisters and friends would check out the bride. Make sure she wasn’t some kind of wicked stepmother.”

And thus was hatched the idea of EVERYONE SHE LOVED, a novel that explores the faith one woman placed in her dearest friends, the care she took to protect her family, and the many ways in which romantic entanglements will confound and confuse even the most determined of planners.

2.) Are you more driven by plot or by character?

I always start with a character who intrigues me.

3.) Who's your favorite character in this book and why?

I think because I come from a big family, it’s really hard to choose a favorite. I love all of them. There’s Penelope, who has died by the time the book begins but whose oversized personality permeates the novel. Her stepsister Clover, who seems like such a ditz at the beginning, is dear to my heart because she makes me laugh. Lucy, who is my main character, is, of course, my alter-ego, and so is Martha, who’s such a smart-a*&s.

4.) What's your writing process/writing environment like?

I’m lucky enough to have an office in one of the upstairs bedrooms. I sit in a comfy armchair, feet on an ottoman and write on my laptop, coffee on a table to my right, dog lying to my left. I try to write from 9-3 but sometimes it’s just two hours a day. A few times a year I sit there and can’t even get a word written. Those aren’t fun. In the early phase, I write a lot of scenes I’ll later throw away. Some days I ‘go down the rabbit hole,’ which is what I call researching on the Internet.

5.) What's your favorite part of writing?

Getting into the flow where I’m not even really aware that I’m writing.

6.) What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten about writing?

Well, Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird has a chapter called Shitty First Drafts. I like that. I tell myself that if I can write even one bad page a day, it’s better than no pages.

This is a perfect summer read, so order yours today!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Always a New Adventure

I know that when I used to look at my parents (or pretty much everyone who was, say, over 40) I figured they were just a step or two from fossilizing.

Then, I became an adult--in both age and mindset, and I realized all sorts of adventures were still ahead of me. In the past 4 years I got married, had a book published, left a stable job (high school English teacher) and embraced another (less stable, but it rocks!).

And new adventures, large and small, continue.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to write an installment on a "round robin short story". A Romance-y, chick-lit-y story. Um, not me. But it's been a hoot and they asked me to write another entry. Which I did. You can enjoy the whole thing at Romance in the Backseat. (My second installment might not be up until tomorrow.)

At the end of this month, I'll be having a little, out-patient-y procedure to remove my gall bladder (which is full of multiple, mobile stones. I was pleased to know the stones are busy little guys and not lazy slugs. But then my doctor pointed out it's the mobile ones that are the trouble-makers.) This will be both an adventure and a reminder that I AM middle-aged, I suppose.

What new adventures do you have on tap?

(And, yes, I'm still writing Unexpected Grace. 2600+ words yesterday. I'm very excited about it.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Writers in Their Own Words--GCC

I've been writing like a madwoman lately . . . and I'm loving every minute of it. This week, my goal is another 10,000 words. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I've got another Girlfriend Cyber Circuit buddy to introduce you to . . . Judi Fennell is fun and smart and has a perfect debut novel for your beachside reading, In Over Her Head.

When Erica Peck, one terrified-of-the-ocean marina owner, finds herself at the bottom of the sea conversing with a Mer man named Reel, she thinks she's died and gone to her own version of Hell. When the Oceanic Council demands she and Reel retrieve a lost cache of diamonds from the resident sea monster in return for their lives, she knows she's died and gone to Hell.

When they escape the monster and end up on a deserted island, she amends her opinion - she's died and gone to Heaven.

But when Reel sacrifices himself to allow her to return to her world, she realizes that, Heaven or Hell, with Reel, she's In Over Her Head.

Let's hear from Judi in her own words:

1.) How did you come up with the idea for this book? Are you more driven by plot or by character?
I was working on a Fairy Tale series that are modern, paranormal twists to the old stories: Beauty and The Best (my American Title and original finalling story), Cinda Bella, and Fairest of Them All, so I wanted to twist The Little Mermaid. Plus I saw the movie Failure to Launch and Matthew McConaughey's character was perfect for Reel. It all came together as the easiest story I've ever written. It just... flowed.

2.) Who's your favorite character in this book and why?
Honestly, I can't pick. I love all of them, even the sharks - and since I'm terrified of them in real life, that's saying something. We've got the hero, Reel, a devil-may-care, playboy type who really isn't; Erica, who has The Incident hanging over her head and making her question her self worth; Chum the chatty suckerless remora (due to an unfortunate boat propeller incident); Ceto the sea monster villainess--or is she?; Hammerhead Harry; Vincent the Great White with an agenda; Ernie and Amelia... I had a blast meeting all of these "folks."

3.) What's your writing process/writing environment like?
I do my best "splurge" writing locked in my office or at Borders. No internet, earphones in and I just let the story splurge onto the keyboard. I go to that place and immerse myself in it for hours. 6, 8, 10 at a time. It's draining but fulfilling. Editing is a little less intensive and for my final run-through I print the whole thing out in 2 column pages and block off several hours to go through it at one sitting.

4.) What's your favorite part of writing?
When the story flows out of my fingers as if I'm not even thinking of it. That usually happens when I'm immersed in it for about two hours.

5.) What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten about writing?
Never, ever give up.

That's great advice, Judi . . . and I'm glad you took it to heart!