Posted in Writing and publishing

Banjos and Books

Now and again, someone will ask why I like to write.

I think each of us has something unique to say. We have our experiences, our lessons learned, our stories to tell. However, not everyone enjoys the mechanics of putting words on paper. I do.

As a child, I was drawn to words. I was an early reader, and I was one of those weirdo kids who actually enjoyed diagramming sentences.  I began writing stories for my own amusement while in elementary school. The first one was called “The Sausage That Cried.” Fortunately, things got better after that.

Writing for schoolwork soon took precedence, however, and I’m sorry to say I put aside writing fiction while in high school and college. I had more “serious” things to do. Yet, people I corresponded with in letters (yes, way back then we wrote letters) would often say, “You write so well. You should write books for a living.”

Somehow, writing books for a living didn’t sound practical for the average person. So, I completed a degree in science instead and worked in a hospital. Then, in the mid-1970s I read about two authors with newly published first novels. One was Colleen McCullough (The Thorn Birds), a full-time medical technologist (like me!) who sat up all night writing her book. The other was Judith Guest (Ordinary People), described as a typical housewife writing her novel on the kitchen table in her spare time. A typical housewife? A medical technologist? Maybe my literary aspirations weren’t so crazy after all!

I started writing again. At that time, I did all of my writing in longhand. Reams of handwritten pages collected in boxes. When I bought my first computer in 1989, I laboriously typed them all in, marveling at the wonder of being able to instantly edit and not have to deal with a lot of crossed out lines and scribbles in the margins. After that, there was no stopping me.

Twenty-some years later, not much has changed. I still work full time, although in a different job, and I still write at night and on weekends. Computers are a lot faster and easier to use, and I have the wonderful convenience of the Internet for research instead of library books, encyclopedias, and periodicals on microfiche. Writing is my passion, my pastime, and my therapy.

Fortunately, my husband is patient and understanding. And we have a deal.

I let him play his banjo in the house. He lets me write.

Posted in Writing and publishing

KidLit Blog Tour!

cropped-miagrace-web-2.jpgMy fellow young adult author at Red Adept Publishing , Kimberly G. Giarratano, asked me to participate in a KidLit blog tour. It sounded like fun, so here are my answers to her questions:
What are you working on right now?
My current project is a series of young adult time travel novels called Names in the Attic.
How does this differ from other works in its genre?
The teen-aged heroine travels back in time to a number of different eras in the same old house. In the process, she experiences the pre-women’s lib days of the 1950s, the racial and political violence of the 1960s, and so on. At the same time, she becomes involved in the lives of the people she meets, which isn’t always easy when you know what the future holds for them. And, of course, there’s romance, intrigue, and danger!
Why do you write what you do?
I guess I enjoy the possibilities that time travel presents and the opportunity that it gives me to revisit and/or learn about different eras. In some cases, I’m time-traveling myself because much of what I write is based on past experience, and I get to relive those days as I reproduce them on paper.
How does your writing process work?
I’m what some authors call a “pantser,” in that I write by the seat of my pants. While I have a general idea of where the story is going to go, much of what happens is character-based, which means my characters drive the details. I don’t dare write my chapters out of sequence because my characters’ personalities and reactions to situations can send the story in a direction that I can’t foresee. It’s kind of like watching a movie in my head. Until it’s over, I don’t really know what’s going to happen.
Any departing words of wisdom for other authors?
The urge to write is a gift. If you have stories to tell, let them out! Never stop writing because you think you’re not good enough. Writing is a skill that improves with practice, an open mind, and the help of good beta readers who will tell you the truth. Follow blogs intended to help writers, and when you’re ready, find a good editor to polish your words and point out your shortcomings. Then use what you’ve learned to do it even better next time. And keep those ideas coming!
Make sure to check out the blogs from these YA authors who are also participating in this tour!