Twenty Thousand Words Under The Keys

Jules Verne, Eat your Heart Out!

Jules Verne, Eat your Heart Out!

Are we drowning in verbosity, yet? The first 4 of the 34 chapters in Irish Firebrands have been posted, along with the back matter of the book. According to my word processor, these chapters number 20,387 words.

I write chapters that take around 30-40 minutes to read. Chapter word counts throughout the book range from just under 5K to 6,250. Other counters may have different opinions about what constitutes a “word;” Smashwords also counts separated punctuation forms (such as dashes and ellipses), coming up with a total manuscript length of 199,230, when my word processor yields only 196,131.

Irish-language purists may want to pick a bone with the pronunciation key (just as they may not approve of how the computer voice reads Gaeilge in the audiobook), but there are a wide variety of pronunciations of the language across the island. After acquiring four sets of Irish lesson recordings, it was the best I could do.

Incidentally, the spelling of Irish names is fluid, too, as any survey of contemporary Irish newspapers will reveal. For example, in addition to the Anglicized Maeve, you’ll find Medb and Méadhbh in current use.

The bibliography includes many (but not all) of the research materials I acquired during the writing of the novel. I own printed copies of all but four of the books listed therein. A selection of their colorful covers resides on the Irish Library page, on the menu above.

College/University students of English composition or creative writing, who are aged 18 years or older, are welcome to analyze these chapters to fulfill a writing assignment. Just contact me, first, via the Guestbook page. Quotations may be used only for strictly academic purposes, and must be appropriately cited and referenced. I also need to receive copies of any writing assignments that use my material in this way. Fees/royalties will be waived for qualified academic users.

Octopus tentacle & typewriter plate - Handpainted (artist unknown) (link broken)

Octopus tentacle & typewriter plate – Handpainted (artist unknown) (link broken)

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Review of Janice Radway’s “Reading the Romance”


nelson coverOddly enough, I ran across a citation for the book that’s reviewed here, during my reading of Robert Nelson’s German Soldier Newspapers of the First World War. This kind of analysis appeals to me as I ponder the instinctive way I wrote Irish Firebrands, while not being an aficionado of the book’s main genre.

radway cover*

What has “worked” for you, as a reader?

How do you think that has influenced you, as a writer?

(Here’s a more up-to-date cover for the Radway book.)


Originally posted on Function Follows Forme:

Janice A. Radway, _Reading the Romance_ (1984)

Janice A. Radway, _Reading the Romance_ (1984)

This week I assigned my students Janice Radway’s classic Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature (University of North Carolina Press, 1984; repr. 1991) as the text for our discussion of the history of reading and the history of book use.  As an American Studies scholar, Radway wanted to expose the culture of patriarchy that pervades modern life in America.  The hope being that if the public is alerted to a problem in cultural life, they will use this knowledge to advocate resistance and social change.   The political goals behind this argument are of less interest to me than the example of active readership she demonstrates throughout the book.

Reading the Romance is an ethnographic study of a group of 42 romance novel readers.  These readers, almost all of whom are white, middle class, married women, live in a commuter…

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Another Chapter Heard From!

Book of Kells, Folio 19v, Breves Causae of Luke

Book of Kells, Folio 19v, Breves Causae of Luke

Chapter 2 has been added. There’s still a bit of work to be done to patch up the formatting that got lost in pasting to the blog editor, but it’s legible.

Just a reminder: This blog is not about a work-in-progress. Irish Firebrands is available in 51% previews at Goodreads and Smashwords - but if you’d like to cut to the chase, it’s available in E-Book and Paperback to booksellers and libraries, worldwide.

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New Feature! Sample Chapters!

Chapters 1-4 and Back Matter will be on the Menu. Each will be posted in parts.

The 51% Previews can still be downloaded at Smashwords and Goodreads.

Reproduction of Gutenberg-era Press

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Touching You, Touching Me

“Ask Me No More,” by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)

On our sojourn within the pages of Irish Firebrands, we’ve traveled on the tickets of the senses: smell, sight, hearing, and taste (as defined by references to food, cooking and eating, although there are also at least two references to gustatory function not associated with feeding). A few days ago, we introduced touch as a means of expressing and receiving love. I’ll expand the discussion of touching in this post.

The sense of touch is a complicated function of the body and mind that involves the ability of skin, mucous membranes and associated structures to detect and transmit stimuli that can be interpreted by the brain as infinite degrees of pressure, pain/pleasure, roughness/smoothness, wetness/dryness, heat/cold, etc. By now, it will come as no surprise that Irish Firebrands includes many references to touching, being touched, or an associated somatosensory stimulus. Here are some examples from the first 3 chapters:

1. she couldn’t resist stroking the animal’s shaggy forelock.
2. she reached out to savour with her fingertips the surface of the irregular golden stones of the rustic wall
3. she lost her purchase on the edge of the window and slipped, striking her nose on the stone ledge.
4. She hung onto the windowsill with one hand and pinched her nostrils with the other.
5. When the pain and bleeding eased,
6. It was good to see Seán, in whose firm handshake Dillon felt more of a welcome than in Frank’s careless largesse.
7. She caught and righted the cup, but hot wax splashed on her skin.
8. The air was chilly, but the stones of the back wall of the house still held heat, and the radiating warmth made Lana feel as if the farmhouse were reaching out in welcome.
9. She bruised her shins upon the impedimenta that filled the musty darkness.
10. Shivering in the dank air,
11. Last night, she’d bathed in lukewarm water
12. Afterwards, chilled by the cold air on the landing,
13. Shivering in her pyjamas,
14. His long fingers engulfed her small ones, but her handshake was firm.
15. Lana patted the tree trunk beside her; then she ran her hand gently over the rough bark, drawing the tips of her fingers through the crevices.
16. Tottering, she laid a hand on his forearm and her head touched his biceps.
17. Dillon saw her shiver violently.
18. she ran her hands through those charming curls, twining their softness round her fingers–
19. cradling the warm mug in both hands,
20. she felt a burning blush flash from breast to brow.
21. She wasn’t cold at all, now, but she took the mug he proffered and downed a big swallow of hot tea.
22. Suddenly her palms felt damp and her mouth felt very dry.
23. There was only one swallow of tea left, and it was stone cold,
24. He tossed the damp towel into the linen basket
25. Then he picked up the blanket – and was startled to find that it felt warm–
26. There surged within him a devouring desire to touch and be touched – to hold and to be held – his arms and chest ached with the feeling.
27. He sank into the chair and gathered the blanket close, burying his face in its comforting folds.
28. Then reality faded a bit, and it was as if Lana stood there between his knees, with her arms round his neck, and his arms round her soft, warm body–
29. Why, it was positively absurd of him to think that her body had warmed the blanket, when he knew quite well that it felt warm only because the end of it had hung beside the heater.
30. Mamó would heat a brick atop the iron cooker, and then she’d put it in a flannel sack that he’d carry upstairs to his bed, to toast his toes while he fell asleep

Remember, there are 34 chapters in Irish Firebrands, so if the first 3 are any indication of the remainder, and the examples of the other senses hold true, there may be a thousand or more references throughout the book that have to do with perceptions associated with the sense of touch!

Have you been checking your own writing for sensory input? What’s been your favorite sense to portray?

NB: This completes our exploration of sensory perception in Irish Firebrands.* The only thing that’s left is the “Sixth Sense” – but we probably ought to leave something to the imagination! ;)

* The PhD student who interviewed me for her dissertation about the experience of authoring a first novel, also asked about the literary device of sensory perception in my writing.

©2012-2014 by Christine Plouvier

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Will You Still Heed Me…

I’ve been surfing sites and boogying through blogs that have to do with The Great Boomer Lit Controversy. Is this new genre legit? Or is it just a figment of the self-absorbed imagination of the “Me Generation”?

Believe it or not, there are voices shouting on both sides of the cultural divide about this. It’s the hottest marketing question since, “Does she or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure!”

...Will You Still Read Me…

Image © 2010 by Christine Plouvier

Image © 2010 by Christine Plouvier

Frankly, when I started writing Irish Firebrands, the awareness that all but one of the important characters (and most of the unimportant ones, too) had already celebrated (?) one, two, or three Black Balloon Birthdays never occurred to me. I was just having the time of my life watching my imaginary friends get into all kinds of hot water, despite their having male pattern baldness, crows-feet, bifocals, graying hair, achy joints and middle-age spread. Because of my already having reached A Certain Age, myself, writing about such things was no big deal – I was far more interested in finding out what was going to happen next to tie their brains in knots, entangle them in mysteries, make them stumble on the Road to Hell That’s Paved With Good Intentions, and heat up their love lives.

I came to the conclusion elsewhere on this blog that Irish Firebrands is a Boomer Lit, Romantic, Inspirational, Paranormal, Psychological Melodrama.* It crosses so many genre lines, it defies a static definition – just like the kind of life you may come to understand that you’ve lived, once you realize that you’ve left your youth behind.

In other words, I just wrote what I knew, in the kind of book I wanted to read – a Real Adventure.

How would you market that?

…When I’m 64?

*Hey, I had a “midlife moment” and forgot to tack “Literary” onto the front end of that. Would you do it for me? Thanks!

It had seemed like a good idea at the time – rather like Lana’s notion of becoming an American expatriate consulting genealogist and researching her way around the world on tourist visas. She’d been part of the baby boomer backpacker generation, and it would be like going back to her roots. Armed with her new credentials as a certified genealogist, she’d travel light and go far on her savings, supplemented with research commissions. Her first client having engaged her to research in Ireland, she’d found a tenant for her house and a buyer for her car. Then she’d invited her kids to dinner to break the news.
“You’re doing what?” they chorused.
“Vagabonding – in style. Bag lady, par excellence!”
Mo-om! Now, stop it!” Beth, her eldest, mothered everybody, even Lana.
“I’m not joking.”
Middle child Drew saluted her with his goblet of sparkling grape juice. “Here’s to those who fail to remember the past,” he intoned.
Lana had rolled her eyes. “Thanks for your vote of confidence, Santayana.”
Nick, her streetwise youngest, cocked a practised eyebrow. “Mum – have you thought this out?”
“Bishop Swanson knows,” she’d said.
The kids exchanged glances.
Well, I didn’t say he approved. She’d recently returned to full fellowship in the Church, so that wasn’t surprising. But how better to launch a new life, than by closing the circle of the old one?
“Look – I promise to stay in touch. Besides, I’ll be attending church over there. I found the meetinghouse online – I even have the bishop’s phone number.”
The looks on their faces told her they were not quite convinced of her sanity.
“Come on – have you ever known me not to do something, once I set my mind to it? Besides, it’s just another one of life’s great adventures.” That was Lana’s old motto, the one that had always got her through.

~ Irish Firebrands, Chapter 1

©2012-2014 by Christine Plouvier

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Passing the Blog Hop Torch

Celebration HouseAnnette DrakeBone Girl

After experiencing a few technical difficulties, here’s our next stop in the new-author blog hop: a visit with Annette Drake, a warm-hearted writer who has had the energy, the talent and the grit to tackle some tough topics in two very different novels – and already she’s tying up her third. Here’s her bio:

Annette Drake is a multi-genre author whose work is character-driven and celebrates the law of unintended consequences.
Her second novel, Bone Girl, was published in March by Baskethound Books. Celebration House, her debut novel, was published last August in e-book format for readers everywhere by Tirgearr Publishing. Meanwhile, she’s hard at work revising her contemporary romance, A Year with Geno, scheduled to be released on summer solstice, June 21st.
The mother of four children, Annette makes her home in eastern Washington. She is a member of the Inland Northwest Writers Guild and Spokane Authors & Self Publishers. Annette loves libraries, lame horses, basset hounds and bakeries. She does not camp.

1. How did you receive the first inspiration to write your books? Do you envision random scenes and work outwards in both directions, or do stories come to you chronologically?

I write all of my books scene by scene, then I piece them together. Undoubtedly, this is not the smartest way to write a novel, but it’s working for now. I cannot write linearly. I get stuck. Instead, I see a scene in my mind or the characters whisper in my ear, and then I let my fingers fly across the keyboard. Kind of sounds like mental illness, doesn’t it?
As for the first inspiration, I’ve been telling and listening to stories all of my life. I remember making up songs about the American Civil War when I was seven years old. When my first short story was published in my middle-school newspaper, I was famous. For all of 15 minutes. I’ve dreamed of writing novels ever since then, but making a living and raising four children permits procrastination.
Last year, I found myself suddenly unemployed, and so I focused on finishing Celebration House. Much to my joy, Tirgearr Publishing offered me a contract. I said yes, and it’s been a roller coaster ever since.

2. What role does research play in your writing? How did researching Celebration House differ from researching Bone Girl?

Yikes! They’re both such different books.
In Celebration House, I used a lot of my work experience as a registered nurse in a cath lab at a hospital in Seattle. In fact, that’s where the idea first originated. There was always down time between cases and while talking to an older gentleman, I was struck by how disabling his cardiac disease was. This patient told me that all he had the strength to do each day was take a shower. That was it. That was his day.
Growing up, I watched my parents and grandparents restore a house in my hometown of Brookfield, Missouri. Some of the scenes, including the wallpaper scraping, were a part of my childhood. Of course, it wasn’t as glamorous as I made it out to be in the book. I researched Greek Revival architecture, but the layout of Stratton House is basically the home my family restored.
I lived near Kansas City when I attended nursing school, so when I visited my family, I would take Hwy. 24 home. Every trip, I drove past this brick antebellum house and every year, I watched as it fell into greater disrepair. And I thought, how amazing would it be to restore that house and open it as a place for weddings or class reunions? These ideas collided, and after many years, Celebration House was built.
For Bone Girl, I wrote about things I had never experienced. I met with endurance riders and horse trainers. I read and reread the book, Endurance 101. I sat in on beginning band classes at my daughter’s middle school. I took any opportunity that came my way to dive into my subject matter. Also, I have some unique Google searches on my browser history. My favorite: what are the symptoms of a meth user? I didn’t know. I’ve never been in that situation.
For me, Bone Girl is all about the characters. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent talking and listening to the people who live in that book. They are real to me. And honestly, that connection with Josey and her father pushed me, drove me, to finish and self-publish this book. I think people need to hear Josey’s story. She is the most amazing protagonist. I took literally everything away from her, and still she triumphed. That’s a powerful lesson.

3. How did it happen that you found an overseas publisher? What insights can you share about helping a publisher to take favorable notice of one’s work?

I saw an article about Tirgearr Publishing on a website called They were one of several publishers I queried after finishing Celebration House, and I chose to accept their contract. That was a year ago this month.
Tirgearr Publishing gave life to my dream of selling my first book, and I’m grateful. They’ve been a voice of encouragement and continue to be so.
But I have since joined the ranks of indie authors. I think that’s a better fit for my personality, i.e. control freak and worrier. I want to choose the covers for my books. I want to know how well or not well my books are selling. For me, even if the financial rewards never come, self-publishing is the best path. It allows me to write the books I want or perhaps need to write.
A year ago, when a member of my critique group suggested I self-publish, I felt offended. I thought, doesn’t she think my writing is good enough? Now, having perused the blogs of Joe Konrath and Hugh Howey, I’m sold on self-publishing. I’ll never write another query letter again. But every author gets to choose, and that’s as it should be.

Thank you, Annette, for holding high the torch, and illuminating the path to becoming an author! We all wish you well, and look forward to filling our bookshelves with your works! ~ Christine Plouvier

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Getting My Head Examined

It’s about time, too! you’re thinking.*

If your window faces West,
You’d better close the blind,
‘Cause I can look out my back door
Due East, and read your mind!

Be that as it may … this afternoon, I completed a second interview as a research subject, for a dissertation by a PhD student at Ball State University. The study is entitled Pursuing a Dream at Midlife: Self-Direction of Writers with Their First Published Novel. Themes that were identified in the first interview included:

  • Experience of Writing
  • Meaning of Writing
  • Experience of Self-Publishing
  • Learning That Occurred

The Principal Investigator also told me that the transcript of our first interview ran to 60 pages (I just don’t know when to shut up). It’ll be interesting to see how this all comes together at the end of the study.

©2000, 2014 by Christine Plouvier

the phrenologist

*Now, don’t deny it. I can hear everything you’re thinking – especially if you’ve got male pattern baldness. What! Didn’t you know? That high, domed forehead transmits brain waves from the frontal lobes, broadcasting them like the focused beam of a biosonar echolocation click train modulated by the melon of a sperm whale, porpoise or killer whale!


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All You Need Is Love

Illustrations ©1929, Saalfield Publishing Co.

Illustrations ©1929, Saalfield Publishing Co.

As the author of a Romance novel, and inspired by the question posed by smilingldsgirl: Never Fall in Love? I’ll begin by analyzing Dickens’s character, Ebenezer Scrooge, using the four Greek definitions of love: storge, eros, philia and agape.

Scrooge lost storge at an early age, upon his mother’s death and from his father’s emotional withdrawal, and later, upon the death of his younger sister (mother of his nephew, Fred). He also rejected the storge offered by his nephew. Scrooge retreated from eros when he failed to contract and consummate a marriage with the only woman in whom he’d ever had a romantic interest. He developed an anemic sort of philia with his sole business partner, Marley, who also predeceased him. Scrooge did not develop agape until he had the equivalent of a near-death experience, after which he also became a philanthropist, and developed storge for his nephew and nephew’s wife.

Young Scrooge receives storge from his sister, Fan.

Young Scrooge receives storge from his sister, Fan.

But a resumption of eros didn’t enter the picture: Dickens avoided going there by giving Scrooge an advanced age, enabling readers to assume that it’s too late for libido to return to his life. It’s a false assumption, though, as studies of human sexuality have shown. Old age in males is no bar to successful copulation or procreation (even erectile dysfunction does not prevent orgasm), and geriatric gentlemen need not become sugar daddies to young trophy wives, in order to do this: many women retain their fertility for much longer than the average “childbearing age” range of 15-45 years; post-menopausal libidinal increases have been noted; and there’s a lot of nodding and winking in Hollywood about “cougars” and their boy-toys.

The popular expectation is that individuals of any age who lack one of the aspects of love in their lives ought to be able to successfully sublimate their unrequited feelings in a compensatory increase in one or more of the other expressions of love. This expectation is especially true of eros, which, because of its nature, suffers from being relegated to the remote ends of the continuum of sexual activity: either inhibition (as in the puzzling protocols of “polite” behavior, such as the prohibitive prudery about underwear that’s paired with the permissible public nudity of swimwear), or else flagrant promiscuity (including prostitution and pornography).

Old Scrooge rejects storge from his nephew, Fred.

Old Scrooge rejects storge from his nephew, Fred.

What is the nature of eros that subjects it to such extremes of expression? The answer lies in the chemical reactions and electrical potential of the human nervous system. Nerve function depends on the relative proportions of the sodium and potassium ions in the fluids inside and outside of nerve cells, mediated by the “sodium-potassium pump.” An electrical potential builds up, and then is discharged (kind of like lightning). Depending on the organs served by the nerves in question, the result of the discharge can be anything from muscular action to thought.

In the human reproductive system, the buildup of electrical potential causes the discomfort of sexual tension (“lust”), and the secretion of neurotransmitters that stimulate “seeking” behavior (engendering emotions such as “falling in love”) directed towards finding opportunities to discharge that physical discomfort. When nervous electrical discharge finally occurs, the result is the relief of orgasm, and the secretion of neurotransmitters and hormones that stimulate bonding behavior (engendering emotions such as contentment and commitment).

Scrooge in his prime rejects eros with Belle.

Scrooge in his prime retreats from eros with Belle.

The purpose of this folderol is to serve the biological survival imperative, the success of which the social construct of marriage also is meant to promote and protect. But the electrical discharge resulting from sexual behavior results in the most intense pleasure the body can feel: a function intended by Nature to improve the chances of reproduction by frequent repetition of the experience, the powerful sensations of which can be intimidating or addictive to the human psyche – hence the extremes of sexual repression or prurience.

So, laboring under the suspicion that behavior that’s so much fun must be somehow selfish, society expects persons who lack a legally and morally sanctioned sexual partner to overcome the self-indulgence of eros, and find equal contentment by engaging in a different sort of love – preferably agape. But is this realistic? The electrical potential of nerves that supply the musculoskeletal system can be discharged by the work of building houses for the indigent or digging wells for the under-served, and one can get a few good nights’ rest afterwards, but that sort of exertion has no effect on the nerves that serve the reproductive system.

Old Scrooge develops agape and philia for Cratchit.

Old Scrooge develops agape and philia for Cratchit.

What happens when the sodium-potassium pump below the belt begins to feel the pressure of unused hormones and neurotransmitters? At best, emotional emptiness or some heartache. Sometimes Nature effects physical release by means of a spontaneous discharge, or sufferers may feel enough discomfort to induce relief by themselves. In the worst cases, forced celibacy and continence can push some persons over the brink, into ineffective individual coping that becomes addictive, and may involve victimization of other persons. As with other forms of emotional deprivation, going without romantic love may be hazardous to one’s mental health.

For many years, premature babies were isolated from all human contact except for the treatments that kept them alive, in the mistaken belief that touching them caused “sensory overload” that upset the babies and caused brain bleeds. But the brain bleeds continued, and many of those who did not die still failed to thrive, surviving with massive physical and intellectual impairments. It wasn’t until clinicians understood that it wasn’t touching that killed these kids, it was because the only touch they experienced always involved a painful procedure. After “kangaroo care” was adopted, more premature babies not only survived, but also began to thrive.

xmascarol_Page_6Astronauts who spent lengthy tours of duty in space stations experienced comfort simply from touching the live plants they grew for experiments. Elderly persons, whether living alone or institutionalized, can suffer intensely from the lack of touch. Irish Firebrands, a Contemporary Romance that is also Boomer Lit, deals with this problem of aging. Other sub-genres of Romantic Fiction provide vicarious love experiences that are sometimes ridiculed for being “tear jerkers,” but they serve a valuable function because stress hormones are expelled in tears. Even if you don’t read Romance, and don’t like hugging or being hugged, you must get a minimum amount of caring physical contact, in order to cope effectively with the stress of life. Love is all you need.


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Blog Award

liebster-blog-awards-2Phantomwriter143, who blogs at Inkcouragement has tagged me for the “Liebster Award.” Details can be found on my Ephemera page. I’m not sure I can find many qualifying bloggers who are willing to participate, but here are my answers to the assigned questions, which all have to do with the writing process:

1. What kind of music do you like to listen to while writing, if any at all?
It’s always instrumental (lyrics derail my train of creative thought), and sometimes it’s one track for several hours at a time. I also have music playing when I sleep. When I was writing Irish Firebrands, it was Irish trad, soundtracks and classical. For The Passions of Patriots, so far it’s mostly Wagner’s operatic accompaniments, some Beethoven, and a few soundtracks.
2. What is it about writing that keeps you going, even when you’re not sure you want to continue?
Now that I’m disabled, writing is the only creative outlet that I have left.
3. Who is your favourite author?
Any author who loves language, commands an advanced vocabulary, and isn’t afraid to use it, will have my business.
4. What genre do you read, but swear you’ll never write?
If I wouldn’t write in a genre, I wouldn’t be interested in reading it, either. Actually, my answer is the reverse: I wrote Irish Firebrands in the Romance genre, which I don’t read.
5. What do you do when you tell yourself something along the lines of ‘I’ll only procrastinate a little bit longer’?
I check deadlines to see how much leeway I have. I know how long it takes me to do things, so it’s easy to tell if I’m in the green zone, the yellow zone, or the red zone.
6. What brings you right into a writing mood, and how do you keep it that way?
Re-reading my current work-in-progress. There’s always some editing to do, even if I’m temporarily short on new material to write. I’m an “organic” writer (or, a “pantser”), so writer’s block doesn’t exist, for me.
7. Favourite series, and favourite stand alone?
I don’t read series, although a few of the books I like enough to re-read have had one sequel. Probably my all-time favorite is The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas.
8. Have you ever seriously screwed up your sleeping schedule because of a book? Was it worth it, and what were you reading?
Of course I have, and of course it was, and it’s happened so often, I can’t put a finger on any particular title, but because I’m currently engaged in research for my historical novel, I’ll go out on a limb and say the last one might have been one of Siegfried Sassoon’s novels.
9. What do you do to remember those ideas you come up with when you’re not able to write?
I use what I call a “paper brain,” meaning that I write longhand notes on whatever scrap of paper is handy at the time, for future reference.
10. Are there any books or series that you thought were great, and then the ending just ruined everything for you?
In my experience, a story that ends that badly usually gives advance warning, because it exhibits serious writing flaws throughout the book, so the end isn’t a surprise. There have been too many of those to count.
11. Why do you write?
Writing is my calling, now. When I was in my early twenties, a wise old man admonished me to develop my writing skills, so that I would increase my influence for good in the world. During the next thirty years, I wrote a lot of non-fiction: mainly research papers (while I was earning my undergraduate and graduate degrees), plus two self-help manuals and some crochet patterns published in two craft magazines. I started writing fiction five years ago. Now the occupation I list on my income tax return is “independent writer,” although I’m nowhere near the break-even point.


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