Penelope's Daughter, Uncategorized

Penelope is a Winner!

Just thought I’d post quickly to let you all know that PENELOPE’S DAUGHTER won the award for Best Historical Novel of 2010 at the San Diego Book Awards!

Two years ago UNTIL OUR LAST BREATH won Best Biography, and THE FOUR SEASONS won the Theodor S. Geisel Award for Book of the Year.  Pretty nice to  be batting a thousand for my books, and I’m hoping FINDING EMILIE can follow suit next year!

The Intuitive, Uncategorized

Ready, Set, Explode

I’m not sure if nearly a month has ever passed between diary entries before, but then again I have never had a month as an author quite like this one. In my last post, I talked about how I was pondering my newest work, THE INTUITIVE,  but had not yet put fingers to keyboard.

I pondered and researched for another week or so, and then in an explosion of creativity   that has left me stunned, I produced 142 pages of a first draft between May 12 and today.  That’s 23 days to produce about 40 percent of a novel.  I’m tired and feeling in need of a little break, but every day I’m up and ready to go with the next scene, and sometimes that leads into the next one, and then…well, there’s my day.

I’m doing the same thing I did last summer, posting a list of categories of time, to make sure that I put in at least an hour a day at exercise, book promotion, and life maintenance (e.g. things like bills, grocery shopping, pedicure, shower, etc.), so I don’t get all weird.  So far so good.  I’m still sociable and coherent.

It’s funny how the pondering before writing is so essential and then ends up being almost entirely irrelevant to what is actually in the book.  My character (whose name is now Zora) is involved in a significantly different plot that I expected, with different personalities around her and different events. It’s like a real life lived in the superfast lane.  She makes choices, unexpected things happen, and the story goes from there.  You know the adage about the best laid plans–sometimes what I am typing comes as a complete surprise, just like life.

What’s happening now (I’ll stay away from plot for now and stick with process) is that the other characters in the book are starting to reveal themselves a little more. In a first draft, secondary characters often function as little more than paper dolls, one-dimensional placeholders to help the overall plot gather momentum.  Just today as I was walking back from the Farmer’s Market (category: life maintenance) I saw more deeply into the relationship Zora has with an old school friend, Louise.  Before, Louise was there to allow some dialogue that developed Zora’s character, but now I see Louise a little more in her own right, and in adding to her story, I also see where the relationship will go in later chapters, and how a painful clash between Zora and her is inevitable.

I also realized that I was missing the boat on the relationship between Zora’s parents.  In my last post I speculated about some possible dynamics, and I’ve settled on one, but I am starting to have a vision of their family backgrounds and their personal past that helps me understand how they arrived at where they are in the story at the moment.  As with Louise, knowing such things tells me more about what can and can’t happen in future chapters.

That’s how writing a novel works–a little insight here, a little change in trajectory there, but it all flows naturally when I let myself be fully open to the possibilities for the main character.  In the end everything has to rise and fall in keeping with the arc of her story.  But I’m starting to know Zora, starting to see how she will get where she needs to go, and how she will react when she gets there.  This is the point at which an author begins to feel more like the conduit of a story than its creator, the point where I get up in the morning as excited as I hope you as a reader will eventually be to find out what happens next.