I know it’s only November and we still have Thanksgiving and December holidays to go before the new year. But I woke up this morning and thought Yikes, where did my year go? I feel like I’m racing to the finish.
And how much can I cram into the last month and a half?
I had a great year. Living at the shore is a sure fire way to reduce stress. Stuck on a plot point? A the minute walk on the beach will fix that? Well at least give you a new viewpoint when you return to the manuscript.
Did I bask in the sun all summer? No. I sat at my computer all summer. All winter, spring and fall (so far.) Am I a happy camper?
YES. YES. YES.
It was wild. I wrote my next women’s fiction. Whisper Beach, which comes out in June. About childhood friends who might or might not still be friends when the re meet at a funeral. A touch of the Big Chill Jersey Edition.
Then I wrote the first novel in a new historical mystery series (as Shelley Freydont). A Gilded Grave. It was really fun and hair-tearing. Lots of research. But that’s the beauty of working at something you love, and feel compelled to do. It takes pace in 1895, the height of the Gilded Age in Newport, Rhode Island, which gave me a double dose of one of my favorite places because it came on the heels of my last Women’s Fiction Breakwater Bay which is a contemporary story set in Newport.
And last but not least a new Celebration Bay novel and novella to be out in time for Halloween next year.
It was a crazy year. Crazy and beach-soothing. Did I feel like I missed anything? Sure. Lots, but it was worth it.
I hope I get to repeat it next year. Though I will try to schedule better.
How did your year go? Meet your goals? Sat back and enjoyed life? A little bit of both? What do you love spending (almost) every waking minute doing?
What a winter, right? Add to that moving and a deadline that galloped toward the present and I’ve been hibernating in front of my computer screen.
But now the novel is finished except, fingers crossed, a couple of more read throughs. I have a couple of days before I need to start on the next one in earnest. And the weatherman promises Saturday will be warm enough for my first extended walk on the beach.
I’ve been several times. Thanks goodness for thermal clothes and warm coats, hats, gloves. Still except for a few occasions, my nose gave out before my feet did. That ocean wind can be a deal breaker for long strolls along the shore.
But now I’m psyched. I’m turning in my super dooper hybrid mountain bike (really it belongs to my daughter) and getting myself a beach cruiser. No gears, it’s flat here. And I don’t need to feel the wind whizzing by as I ride, I just need to peddle to the beach.
We Jerseyans love our shore. We go down the shore for vacations, for holidays, for relaxing, for inspiration, just for the heck of it. Memories are made there. Lives are changed there. And many good times have been had there.
Hurricane Sandy did a lot of damage. It hurt individuals, families, friends, neighbors. But in new Jersey’s indomitable spirit, everybody came out to lend a hand, donated goods, time and financial support, trying to make life a little more comfortable for those who lost their home, business or a loved one.
BUT WE’RE BACK!!!
Seaside Heights back and building
I’ve been busy with a bunch of deadlines and hours of writing, but I took a day off to drive over to Seaside Heights to see how things were going.
And they were going. It was a Tuesday and though the boardwalk wasn’t thronged, it is the very beginning of the season, it was there and looking good. Arcades were open, games and food lined way. Both carousels were up and running.
I’m a big carousel lover. I’m exultant that I finally got to put a carousel in my upcoming book Stargazey Point. The book takes place in a fictional town on the South Carolina shore, and strangely enough , though written well before Sandy, it’s about a town devastated by decades of hurricanes that looks toward its old carousel to lead it back into prosperity.
Yike’s, kind of scary. Little did I know then that I would be getting first hand experience of how my characters were affected and how their lives were changed, and most importantly of all, how they made a comeback, stronger than ever.
Carousels are more than just a ride, a fun few minutes, to me at least. They are symbols of childhood innocence, of hope, of dreams. A lot to ask of a ride that goes around in a circle with none of the high tech thrills and chills of being suspended in air, dropped through space, scared out of your wits. Up and down and round and round, sort of like life, and if you’re lucky there’s a brass ring to take home.
Here’s an excerpt from STARGAZEY POINT
Even when the carousel music slowly wobbled to silence, Cab could still hear it playing inside his head. Sometimes he heard it in his dreams and he and Midnight Lady would gallop over the sand, wild like the wind, his Uncle Ned had read that from a book once, wild like the wind.
His uncle locked up the carousel, stuck the cash box under his arm, and came to stand beside him. “Tired, son?”
“No sir,” Cab said, stifling a yawn.
“It’s a mighty fine night, ain’t it?”
Cab nodded. Stargazey Point was just about the best place in the world. Like living in a carnival.
Uncle Ned said goodnight to the women closing up the community store. They were going home for the night, but out on the pier people played the arcades and ate cotton candy and drank lemonade. If he listened real hard, Cab could hear music coming from the pavilion out at the end, where the grownups would be dancing to a real live band.
Ned put his arm around Cab’s shoulders. “Time we were getting home. Have us some left over barbeque and get to bed.”
They walked away from the beach, the lights, the sounds and into the night. They were half way home when Uncle Ned stopped in the middle of the dark street. “Look up at the sky, Cab.”
Cab did. The sky was black and there more stars than you could ever count. He sighed. School would be starting soon and he’d have to leave his uncle for another year. He didn’t want to go, he didn’t like boarding school, everyone here was nice.
“I wish I could stay in Stargazey Point forever.”
“Maybe you will one day. It’s a magical place, sure enough. It can mend your heart, make you strong, and show you the way to follow your dream. You remember that, Cab. There’s not a better place in the whole world than right here at the Point.”
You never know what interesting things you might stumble upon doing research.
In my current work in progress aimed for 2014 and titled so far as Breakwater Bay, one of my characters is a book illustrator. He is doing the illustrations for and yet another children’s version of the Odyssey.
Now I’ve studied Homer, but it was a while ago and I wasn’t sure which characters were in the Iliad and which were in the Odyssey. So I googled.
Holy Moly!!!! I couldn’t believe what I found. I say that all the time, Holy Moly! My characters often are heard saying it. I always just assumed that it was one of those mildly drat kind of expressions like gosh durn and other light weight swear words that won’t get you into trouble with readers or your mother.
Well, guess again. Holy Moly is an herb. A Holy herb. A magical herb that is written about in the Odyssey. Hermes gives this herb to Odysseus to protect him from Circe, so that he can rescue his crew, whom she has turned into swine. Sounding familiar?
Supposedly this magical herb is grown from the blood of a giant killed on the isle of Kirke or Circe.
It has been suggested that this was actually a plant in the species Galanthus or the snowdrop; evidently it substances can counteract the affects of hallucinations. As kids we were always told snow drops were poison. Here’ s a lovely photo of the snow drop taken by Simon Garbutt.
Anybody know how moly or molu grew from an herb in the Odyssey to an expression of surprise?
Lois Winston, author of the Anastasia Pollack mystery series sent me these questions to answer about My Next Big Thing, which is of course my next novel.
My Next Little Thing, A Holiday two novella bundle.
But before I answer them, I want to mention my next little thing, Holidays at Crescent Cove, a two novella bundle featuring the characters from Beach Colors will be available On December 11. Now on to the Next BIG thing.
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
1.What is your working title of your book?
2.Where did the idea come from for the book?
It sort of sprang from somewhere I didn’t expect. The idea of a town fighting for its life and at the mercy of nature and developers and how one person can turn the tide of the future.
3.What genre does your book fall under?
4.Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Carey Mulligan as Abbie
Terrence Stamp as Beau
Orlando Bloom as Cabot
5.What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A traumatized documentarist flees to a small South Carolina beach town where she hopes to find sanctuary, but is changed forever by three septagenarian siblings, an old Gullah wisewoman and a man and his vintage carousel.
6.Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Agency, published by William Morrow
7.How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Three Months of long hours
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Beach Colors. I think stores will appeal to the readers of Luanne Rice and Kate White.
9.Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was in England a couple of years ago and visited Mousehole, a Cornwall town which is the setting of a favorite children’s book, The Mousehole Cat. It’s about how one small insignificant person, (cat) or act can change the life of an entire town. Later , I wanted to write about someone who comes to a place for a safe haven and becomes the igniting force behind a town’s recovery. And though my story takes place on the shores of South Carolina, I though the same loyalty and determination would be right at home there.
10.What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I love vintage carousels; many have been dismantled and sold off piecemeal to collectors. A few have been saved by passionate carousel lovers. One of the characters in my book gives up a lucrative career to restore a carousel from his childhood.
Check out these authors to find out about their Next Big Thing
Message for the tagged authors and interested others:
Rules of the Next Big Thing
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.Be sure to line up your five people in advance.
I sometimes envy filmmakers, but not too often. First of all, film is a team effort. The writers and rewriters can be numerous, not to mention actors, directors, producers, grips and gaffers and directors of photography.
The last film I worked on, I was brought onboard during the “salmon” rewrite, named for the color of the paper it was written on, which I figured meant they had already gone through the white, blue, beige, pink, yellow, who knows how many other colors of paper first. Because really, who would start with salmon paper?
As I novelist, that makes me cringe. It’d hard enough me to give my little darling to a beta reader, take edits from my agent, my editor, the copyeditor and proof reader. When they want something changed, they give it to me to change instead of the guys hired to do the rewrites. (Which is another job that’s not as easy as it sounds.)
I love the movies, I’ve worked on movies, I love sitting in a dark theater, love watching and rewatching my favorites.
In movies you don’t have to worry too much about setting. You can set up the place, the situation and the characters, their occupations, or loves and hates, during the opening credits. And you get to do it with scene edits and music. No wonder people have a hard time reading several paragraphs of set up in a novel. So novelists find other ways to do it, usually by painful experimentation.
In movies you don’t have to sneak in descriptions of character, worry if “long blonde hair” is too generic or “waist length curls the color of ripening wheat” is maybe just too, too much.
Do you ever tried to speed read through parts of a novel because they’re just too gruesome or scary? It’s hard to do because you have to keep checking to see if the psychopath or iceberg is still there. Then your eye catches something and you find yourself reading in spite of yourself?
At least in the movies, if something is too gruesome to watch, you close your eyes. Stick your fingers in your ears. IF things get too emotionally intense, and you don’t won’t your date to see you blubbering in the semi darkness, try counting the number of arm rests while waiting for the music to change or the light to brighten. The movie goes on without you. When the music changes you can safely assume it’s safe to watch again.
Let me say one more time and say it really loudly.
I LOVE THE MOVIES.
But I’m glad I’m a novelist. And I loved to read a passage and reread without having to rewind. I sometimes peak forward to see what’s going to happen next. I rarely read a book from beginning to end without rifling through the pages, look back and forth between scenes. Must be the writer in me. Sometimes I just slow down to keep it from ending to soon. Or I have to push forward even when I can barely see the page through empathic tears.
A good movie draws you in, but you know it will go on without you, you can sing Dixie and it will still end after ninety minutes or so. And sometimes you miss something wonderful. And then you either have to pay to see it all again, or wait until you can stream it to your television and cozy up with the remote button.
How do you watch movies or read books? And what about when a story is a book and a movie?
A few weeks ago we were discussing Mary Stewart and someone mentioned Phyllis Whitney. Whitney and Stewart were contemporaries, Phyllis 1903-2008 and Mary 1916. American and English.
Whitney was often called the Queen of the American gothic, though she insisted that she wrote romantic suspense.
I always like Phyllis Whitney, at first because she had once wanted to be a dancer and when I first started to write seriously, I felt a camaraderie with her, because I had been a dancer, too.
I hadn’t read her for awhile so I went back last week and read two of her books that I found on my bookshelf, Hunter’s Green (1968) and The Singing Stones (1990.) Her stories certainly have dark gothic overtones. A true women in jeopardy kind of story.
She was a master of creating that claustrophobic feeling of the heroine surrounded by people with dark motivations and machinations. Everyone is suspect. And she kept me guessing even though I had read them years before.
And though 22 years separated these two books, their themes were similar. A young immature woman marries who she thinks is her soul mate only to lose his love, or flee and has come back to try to understand herself. And him. To see if she has grown at all and if there might still be a future for them. Yet they are surrounded by people who are determined to stop them no matter what the risk or the price.
I confess this time around I did become a little annoyed at the timidity and naiveté of her heroines. But this is classic romantic suspense. And if I prefer the handier more outspoken heroines of Mary Stewart, I can certainly appreciate the feeling of hopelessness and the final development of the heroine.
From The Singing Stones
“When I went into my bathroom to stare at myself in the mirror, I saw crusted blood along the scratch on my cheek, but that was superficial. My hair was a mess, and my coat was smeared with red dust. All of which could be easily repaired. I wasn’t so sure about the look in my eyes—a look of uncried tears. Not because I’d nearly lost my life, but because I’d been looking at a batch of old pictures that belonged to two people who had lived in another time. These were tears I didn’t dare to shed.”
Or Hunter’s Green
“As I ran along the pavement’s edge I brushed past wet shrubbery that slapped at me, weighted by the rain, and I almost fell as I stumbled over something which lay across the roadway at my feet. Something which lay facedown and unmoving, clad in a green trench coat, with a plastic hood covering the head, a coat of hunter’s green streaked by scarlet threads that ran in the rivulets of rain.”
Much darker than Stewart’s stories, the menace is constant and unknown.
Whitney also wrote craft books.
From the Guide to Fiction Writing: Some of her advice to writers:
“Never mind the rejections, the discouragement, the voices of ridicule (there can be those too). Work and wait and learn, and that train will come by. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance to climb aboard.”
And one of my favorites.
“Good stories are not written, they are rewritten”
So what do you think? Can her stories appeal to today’s readers. Or do we have to step back to a less aggressive time to experience the true intensity and fear and hopelessness of those young women?