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I wrote this post a while back on how snippets of conversation show character so well in real life. It amused me that these were actual words real people said to each other in the moment.
Today, I thought I’d reblog something from 2010 back when I was fumbling with The Six Train to Wisconsin first draft.
Working on the end of my third book this week, I swore this was the only book where I didn’t quite know what I was doing. Glad I reread this post and realized that’s actually the norm.
“…When I have a headache, inspiration has fled the house. I look at my outline and gulp. I have to figure out the scenes needed to get from point A to point B. And shit, I didn’t work out how certain things feel/work. Holy Hell. This is gonna suck…”
You can read the entire post here:
I’d love to say that inspiration struck me here. That getting back to nature was my muse.
But it didn’t and it wasn’t.
The place where inspiration consistently strikes me?
It’s the bathroom.
I got the concept for my adult commercial fiction novel while scrubbing the tiles in my tub. The conflict and POV came while I cleaned the toilet.
Every time I take a shower, I have an a-ha moment with whatever story I’m working on.
When I’m doing handwashing in the sink, bam the perfect word/turn of phrase pops into my head.
Mind you this doesn’t happen when I’m dusting or vacuuming.
There’s something bizarrely magical about the bathroom. It’s my muse place.
Not sure if it’s all the water or the sense of privacy, but that is my room of realizations and breakthroughs.
What’s the weirdest place you’ve been when inspiration hit?
- I react to sounds. Music inspires emotion inside me. It fills me with feeling. Feeling I mistakenly think I’ve infused into my words when it’s really feeling that is not translated onto the page.
- Your reader will not be listening to the same music and experiencing a similar reaction when they read your book.
- The rhythm of your words must carry the story.
In Heaven is for Heroes, seventeen year-old Jordie Dunn must face the loss of her brother when he’s killed in the war in Iraq. But Jordie doesn’t believe the military report that his best friend and fellow Marine, Alex Cooper, is at fault. In her quest to find the truth and help Alex, the guy she’s had a crush on since the ninth grade, Jordie discovers that the truth isn’t the only thing she wants.
Thank you so much for having me, Kourtney. First off I’d like to offer a free e-book to three random commenters. Please comment below with your email address so that I can contact the winners. Kourtney will also post winners after my September 24th release date. Good luck to you all. I hope you enjoy the book.
Now, I’ll chat a little about my writing journey and how it has brought me to my debut novel, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, available on Amazon.com, B&N.com, and Smashwords. It can also be purchased on my website at www.pjsharon.com. My site is currently under construction so be sure to check back after September 24th to order a copy.
I started writing for publication about six years ago. It started on a whim. I went to a financial seminar that talked about “creating passive streams of income”—you know—you write a book, put it out there, and then sit back and collect royalties. It sounded pretty easy. I was a decent writer. I had always kept journals, written poetry on occasion, and crafted a few short stories. How hard could it be?
So I asked myself, what do people mostly read? I found the answer to that question (55% of the book market being romance novels), and thought, hey, I know about romance. You see, I had just married the man of my dreams, and moved out to an 1840’s farmhouse in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA. I was riding high on the happily ever after.
Six years later, I’m working on my seventh novel. It turns out I can write after-all, and happily ever after does exist. The quality of my writing has improved after taking many on-line workshops, attending conferences, and working with critique partners and a grammar coach. I’ve had those 500, 000 words of practice everyone talks about. Now the work begins.
My last two or three manuscripts are what I would deem print-worthy–with some good editing. I’ve finally put the pieces together and understand the concepts of story structure, the balance between narrative and dialogue, and the general language skills necessary to spin a good yarn (although I still struggle with too much telling, not enough showing).
Most exciting though, is that I think I finally found that elusive thing called “voice” once I began writing in first person. Voice is the element of style that makes us sound unique and offers the reader a deeper view into each characters perspective.
I found my young adult voice very appealing. It wasn’t a hard leap to jump back into my seventeen year-old self, even though it was many years ago for me. My teens were quite memorable. I had a pretty challenging up-bringing and overcame tremendous obstacles to get through high school. My mother died of cancer early in my junior year. I found out a week after her death that I was pregnant with my first son. I was a mother at seventeen. I was still on my own when I had my second son at twenty-four, so I raised my two sons more or less alone and grew up with them through some very tough years.
As a kid, I spent eight years in the competitive figure skating world, an experience that gave me a good grasp on the issues of anorexia and bulimia, which I write about in Penny’s story ON THIN ICE, my second book which will be released in December. In my twenties I was blessed to find martial arts. I was able to put the focus and self-discipline I learned from skating into a pursuit that was healthy and balanced. It earned me a black belt when I was thirty-two and I use my martial arts experience in my book, HIFH. Jordie, my main character, kind of kicks butt.
My life experiences have shaped and molded me in profound ways and I would like the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with teens. Whether it’s to let them know that they are not alone, or to show them that even though we go through difficult times in our lives, there is at the very least, a hopefully ever after.
I’d love to ask your readers: What inspires you when life gets hard?
Here’s a brief excerpt of the book:
Angry with myself as much as I was Alex, I gave voice to my rage. “You stubborn, pig-headed, pain-in-the-ass…jerk!” I yelled to the leaves on the maple tree nearby. I felt stupid, but it was good to vent. A smidgeon of tension dropped from my shoulders. I did it again. “How could you be so selfish?” I shouted. “How could you walk away from the one person who knows you best…and still LOVES you…even though you are maddeningly stubborn and…and emotionally…immature!” I screamed. A flock of geese took flight off the surface of the still water.
I sank under up to my chin and felt the chill all the way to my bones, all of the heat I’d built up cooling instantly. I couldn’t be mad at him. He was an honorable guy who thought he was doing the right thing by taking responsibility for a mistake. A part of me still couldn’t believe it was Alex’s fault. Where Levi was concerned, anything could have happened.
But the other part of me—the part that had worried about my brother and lied to protect him–knew that if Levi walked willingly to his death, my silence was the lie that made it possible. Maybe that was the truth I was trying to get to. I dunked under and came up slowly, dipping my head back and letting the water pour over me as if seeking some kind of baptism or forgiveness.
If you’d like to learn more about PJ Sharon check out:
Follow her on Twitter: @pjsharon
http://secretsof7scribes.wordpress.com Tuesday’s scribe
So I have a little secret that I can finally share with the world. I just finished the last Harry Potter book. But Kourtney, it was published in 2007! Yup. And I avoided all spoilers for 3 freaking years.
Because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the Potter books. I loved Harry, Hermione and Ron. They felt like old friends and I refused to say goodbye.
It was one of the main reasons I started writing my book. So I’d have characters to come back to as often as I wanted.
Finally with the first installment of the final book coming out as a movie, I decided now was the time to read it. I started in late October and finished last week. It was awesomeness. Totally worth the wait. Like a chocolate cake after 2 years of strict dieting. I was delighted to have another Potter to read. The final one. Sigh.
Was it worth it? Definitely. Would I do it again? Yup. Am I sad to say goodbye to the beloved characters? Of course.
Have you ever held onto the last book in the series, refusing to read it? Because you knew it would be so good and leave you bummed that there weren’t more? What got you over the doldrums?
This week, I’ve been plagued with nasty sinus headaches. The past two days my head has throbbed and throbbed. With no end in sight. Only when I sleep do I escape it. Not exactly the best situation to be drafting new scenes.
When I have a headache, inspiration has fled the house. I look at my outline and gulp. I have to figure out the scenes needed to get from point A to point B. And shit, I didn’t work out how certain things feel/work. Holy Hell. This is gonna suck.
But I have my 1K word count rule/day. Doesn’t matter if the ideas are flowing or the waterfall is bone dry. I have to write. Damn. Damn. Triple Damn. So the past 2 days. My scenes suck. I’m fumbling through them, knowing they are rough rough drafts and serious rewrites will be needed. But I’m putting words down. Go me!
I can edit words. I cannot revise a blank page. I cannot build off of a blank page. I cannot decide what isn’t working on a blank page. So I throw down sentences. And once I hit 1K I stop. Write notes on what the next scene may be. But I stop. Because it’s not going well but at least it’s going.
I think of this as writer’s pause, not block. I’ve got a few ways I can take the story to get to the next main plot point, but I’m trying to figure out which is best. Then I end up writing one and possibly rewriting it later.
What do you do when inspiration has fled the house? Do you take a few days off? Keep writing? Do chores? How do you cope?
So rewind to 1997. This was a fav song of mine. Fable by Robert Miles. As I came home tonight, out of the hellish heat of the subway and into the cool 80 something degree breeze above ground, a story started to weave its way in my head. Out of nowhere. Thoughts came together and I had the concept for a short story. Maybe another novel. I don’t understand how this happens. A line rolls around in there and suddenly, a character is speaking to me.
Someone I’ve never knew existed, but somehow I’ve tuned into her wavelength. Her words and her world start appearing in my mind. I race into my apartment because I know I have to get this down before it slips away. And two sentences turn into two pages hand written. A new idea. Something to get back to. Someone else who begs for their story to be told.
It’s so cool. When it begins. A seed germinating in my mind. Because it will grow into this big old tree in time. And I’ll forget that moment when it all began. I’ll forget what it felt like the first time she talked to me and whispered bits of her story to me.
And it never is a conscious thing. It’s always a random moment of enlightenment. And from there it goes on to become so much more.
Sometimes I overhear snippets of conversation and I memorize it for future use, knowing at some point one of my characters will use the line. When my close friends read my stories they are always amazed at how tidbits of my daily life work their way in.
Anyway, I am storing the following lines ripped from interactions at the Botanic Gardens for future use. But they made me giggle to hear them so I figured I’d share them now.
a) Picture it, gorgeous rows of cherry blossoms in full bloom. The sun peeking through the clouds. Then a mom turns to her son and daughter (approximately 8-10 years of age) and says, “You are ruining this for me. I will have to come back here alone on Tuesday to enjoy it.”
The son, sounding decidedly annoyed with his mother’s dramafest, replies, “Mom, take the picture.”
b) This was overheard while strolling among the tulips. Spray Tan Barbie to über Jock Ken, “When did I ever say I was going to leave you?”
I almost felt bad for this guy. Because clearly if he brought it up, she said it with her actions. I love when people have serious discussions in public.
This is one of my favorites from years ago.
It was my first apartment and this couple next door was usually very quiet until one night they got into a terrible fight. She’s screaming at him about how insensitive he is and how she hates him. He growls back at her, “You’ve ruined my life!”
Hands down, he won that argument. I mean what is worse than ruining someone’s life? I remember her trying to come back at him and he growled it again. Then she piped down. I guess she realized she’d done enough damage for the night.
I love the things we say in the moment. People are such characters. Myself included of course.
What is the craziest/funniest/most outrageous thing you’ve ever heard people say?