Thursday, June 24, 2021

Morning Musings

Today I begin by musing about my book covers, especially as I am going to add that fourth book to the Standing Stones series later this year.

Here are the current covers for my historical fiction series set in Scotland, Australia, and Canada: 

And the working cover for Island Wife, out sometime this year.

Do the covers really match my audience? 

I write gritty historical fiction and try to wind up with a happy ending, rather happy for now, for my characters always seem to come up out of the working class. Faced with tough circumstances, how do these characters survive? Make a better life? Do they give in to internal demons or do they fight on? I believe they deserve that happy ending -- even if only for now.

Given the experiences we've all faced over the last year and a half, isolation, loss, grief, and a feeling of helplessness, I feel less certain about my stories. My personal reading has become more escapist. I want that happy ending, the hero or heroine who rushes to the rescue. Maybe because I feel worn down, I want to write stories that focus more on light and hope. 

When I first began thinking about book covers, I wanted to be inspired by those greatest historical fiction writers, those who wrote serious stories. Writers like Hilary Montel, Ken Follett, or Edward Rutherfurd. Their more traditional covers promise a particular setting or time and rarely feature faces of the characters. 

So, my original covers, do they seem flat to you -- or do these covers that focus on setting invite you into the story? More than what I'm currently using? Which cover would you tend to pick up -- if you were browsing for a new read in your favorite bookstore or online?

As summer heats up, each day brings new challenges and, I hope for you, the beauty of the season. With temperatures pushing into the 100's already, those fragile blooms of spring seem far away. But, they will return.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Planning ahead . . .

Somehow, we made it. As early spring flowers blossomed into summer, every view is now colored green. a time of promise, and warmer weather. 

Vaccines now complete, we are venturing into what almost looks and feels like the 'real' world. Hubby is slowly, slowly recovering from back surgery, and each day brings something new (sometimes expected, like a granddaughter's ninth birthday, and sometimes not expected, like new quilting projects).

I can report progress on final revisions for The Island Wife, that long-awaited Book 4 to my trilogy that tells the story of Moira and Dylan in 1840's northern Scotland. Between editing and proofing, though, another story wants my attention. 

This leads me to ask: Can I truly work on TWO projects at the same time???

And to stir the pot, NaNoWriMo just announced a writing challenge for July. Writers set their own goals for this month-long 'summer camp' and track their progress. I'm already signed up! More than ready to get back to work on that art crime mystery I started earlier in the year. My goal? Add another 15,000 words in July. 

Today, I started putting together my journal for The Missing Sarcophagus. Take one inexpensive composition book. Print out images for characters, settings, and conflicts. Paste into the notebook. Start writing notes, impressions, memories, questions, and key dates and/or a timeline. Voila! This little notebook travels more easily than my laptop!

Here's the working blurb:

When art crime experts Sandra and Neil McDonnell fly to Cairo for a month-long honeymoon, they don’t expect to discover a fake sarcophagus at the Egyptian Museum. Pulled into a tangled web of thefts, they encounter smugglers and uncover a plot to steal artifacts from GEM at Giza, the site of Egypt’s newest museum. 

When threats escalate against Sandra and Neil, and dead bodies begin to appear, can they solve the mystery and find their happy ever after?

The Seventh Tapestry introduced Sandra and Neil, so The Missing Sarcophagus will continue their adventures. I'm more than ready to research, draft, and write their story. Much more fun than copy editing!

What do you think? Have you ever worked on two big projects at the same time? How did that work out for you? I could say yes, more than once, when I was teaching, but now, as a retired writer, I'm less sure. I only know this story set in Egypt is calling my name.

With hopes your summer brings you peace, lots of words, good progress (if you are a writer), and adventures to cherish.  Beth

The Seventh Tapestry is available on Amazon


Wednesday, June 02, 2021

IWSG June: Stuck in a three-year loop?

The first Wednesday of the month, brings the IWSG blog challenge: To share our thoughts with other bloggers about writing, to encourage, to reveal our own struggles, and to support each other -- each of us with our own writing goals and progress (or lack of). 
Some months, we dive into IWSG's question. Other months, we wrestle.

June 2 question: For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

Aargh! I'm wrestling, for I don't shelve that first draft, unless some calamity has taken over my life. Instead, I read, reread, ponder, make notes, print out and make notes, talk with my writing partner, make more notes, reread . . . and write and rewrite. 

Alas, I'm a slow writer. I can sprint through drafting; my typing speed is up there enough to jam a typewriter's keys (back in the day). Typically, three years mark the beginning and end of a writing project, despite my best efforts to study and apply different strategies to become more prolific.

For example, on today's walk up to the pond, I found myself wondering if my heroine, Moira, has really revealed how much she misses her absent husband. What would she tell herself? What does she regret most? What are her fondest memories -- and why? That will preoccupy me for the next several days of revision.

Maybe the 'shelving' period occurs when I send that 'draft' off to a beta reader. But, by then, I'm feeling finished with the story and ready to start planning the next.

How many novels I've written (so far five) doesn't seem to affect when I stop revising. Can you tell I'm more of a recursive writer, returning again and again to see what works, what's missing, what could be better?  At some point, the ending seems to resonate with the whole story, and I'm finished -- and ready to let go.

I'm looking forward to what others say in response to this month's questions. Even as pandemic restrictions ease up, and spring rushes into summer (in the mid-60's last week; today the 90's), we still need courage and tenacity and a clear vision to achieve our goals. 

May your writing go well and each day bring you something to cherish!

Thank you goes to the co-hosts for the Insecure Writers Support Group's June 2 posting. These generous writers read nearly all of this month's posts. Why not visit and see what they're thinking about? J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!

Grandkids at an Oregon Beach (May 2021)