Monday, October 26, 2009

Suspense versus Romance

My older daughter does not read romance. She prefers suspense novels, the kind with creepy stalkers and gruesome murders, the kind that give me nightmares. She finally broke down and read the first two chapters of GOALS FOR A SINNER offered on my web site,, and remarked that nothing much happened in the story. Well, the heroine is tackled by two football players, ends up in the hospital, and meets the man who had a crush on her in high school. That's quite a lot actually, but true, no bodies dropped from the ceiling. No one was stabbed, stalked or done away with in an original manner. I had to explain that romances are about relationships. Hopefully, the reader will like the characters enough to want to follow their story and see them get together in the end. My stories should make you smile or even laugh, chuckle or chortle. They are a source for good dreams. If I've done that, I've done my job.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


As a former reference librarian, I love to do research. I confess to having spent half a day searching for the origins of the chocolate sprinkles to put on ice cream. I thought I'd failed, and got diverted into the history of the lollipop. Then, lo and behold! The same man invented the sprinkles. All this time spent so I could allow a character to ask for sprinkles on his ice cream in my 1920's novel, QUEEN OF THE MARDI GRAS BALL. This was an easy detail to work into the novel. Many other marvelous tidbits had to be set aside least the book start sounding like a non-fiction account of life in the Twenties.

How much historical detail to add? What to leave out? Usually, I try to work signs of the times into the conversation. People took picnic baskets and went out to watch the levee protecting St. Bernard Parish being blown up to save New Orleans. Surely, people would have talked or written letters about this event. On the other hand, it is not necessary to describe the making of bathtub gin, no matter how fascinating, to say someone is drinking it in a scene. I wish I had a formula to offer like fifty percent fact, fifty percent fiction, but I don't. I still haven't figured this out for myself. Just yesterday, I learned how a wigwam is built, step-by-step. Will I use this? Probably not. But it is just so tempting.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Writer's Day

I'd guess every writer's day is different, whatever works for you. Having had a job every year of my life since the age of seventeen, I cannot bring myself to work in my nightgown. Each day, I get up around seven, put on light makeup and clothes decent enough to answer the door, have breakfast, answer e-mail, and run any errands pending. By lunch time, my schedule is completely clear. I sit down and write for four or five hours with the aid of a large pot of hot tea for stimulation. My goal is around 1,000 words a day which usually comes to four or five pages. Neither pantser nor plotter, I am a plodder. I do this day after day, and at the end of three months have a 90,000 word fairly clean first draft. I don't spend time doing character sketches or spread sheets. The story is inside my head. I know my beginning, middle, and end before I start, but the details bring the book to life. I finish for the day around 6:00 pm., make dinner for my husband, enjoy his company, a good book, or a favorite TV program for the evening and turn in around eleven p.m. Not too exciting, but the end result is two books a year. I just keep plodding along.