Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Thursday, September 06, 2018

IWSG: What does cheesecake have to do with writing?

Tuesday night, I had a lovely visit with a local book club. Just 16 women and me, nattering away about writing and Standing Stones. Plus, we enjoyed a very good cheesecake.

These lovers of historical fiction wanted to know how I wrote and why I wrote this particular story. I tried to explain that we writers mine our experiences. A glimmer of an idea from what we experience from a trip, or a book we've read, and we're writing scenes.

For example, while doing research for Standing Stones, I read that during the Industrial Revolution, many suffered from starvation. At times, some thrown out of their homes were reduced to eating grass. An awful realization that historically and today, sweeping economic times can bring shifts in population and great privation. I wasn't sure how this could be used in my story, but the next morning, I awoke with a scene playing out like a movie: Moira discovers two women, dead on a path, grass stains on their lips.

Which brings me to IWSG's question for September: What publishing path did you take, and why?

Two incidents shaped why I'm a frugal and happy indie writer.

As an older than average writer (OTA), I began truly writing just after retiring. I went the traditional route with my first book. One top agent I still respect replied immediately with very specific reasons as to why my book was not marketable. I groaned but persevered. Responses from the next 50 or so potential agents ranged from form letters to no response at all.

Then an independent publishing company (forever nameless) asked me to submit a 10-page, single-spaced proposal and marketing plan. I dutifully completed all their questions and submitted the document. The response? A form e-mail that said I should hear within 2-3 months IF they were interested. Otherwise, I would hear nothing at all.

I popped that novel in the drawer and decided I could learn what I needed and do it myself. In the last decade, I've written 3 historical novels set in the 1840's in Scotland, Australia, and Canada, following the adventures of the McDonnell family. My writing since retirement has shaped travel and research, and I've had a blast writing for my readers.

Along the way, I've connected with (and learned much from) online writing challenges (NaNoWriMo and OctPoWriMo) and writing groups -- The Internet Writing Workshop, A Round of Words in 80 Days, and the weekly challenge to post a snippet from a work in progress, WIPpet Wednesday.

What's next? I'm playing around with a new genre: Contemporary romantic suspense. The story begins in Paris and is inspired by a lost medieval tapestry. I'm learning about art crime, museums, James V of Scotland, and story arcs for this new genre.

Calgary Zoo, Canada (Camp, August 2018)
For the coming month, cherish each day, and may your own writing go well! 

Thank you, Alex Cavannagh and co-hosts Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler for IWSG's September 5 post. Click on over to the Insecure Writer's Support Group to read what others have written.

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