Friday, September 24, 2010

The Bane Of A Writer's Existence: Interruptions

Today, we step back into a gentler time period. One peopled with beloved characters, The Ton, balls, Almacks, sharing the latest on-dits, diamonds of the first water, and all those dangerously sexy rakes.

Haven’t you thought of stepping into a world where fortunes won or lost on a card, dress in the lovely gowns of the time, go riding in a phaeton, walk through the shops of Bond Street, or go to huge house parties or attend balls during the London season?

My guest, Abigail Reynolds, creates that sort of world set in the Regency period of England, that authors like Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen made so popular.

Abigail says writing about that world, and when you’re in the zone, everything fades away but the world being created. Unless something wrenches you abruptly two hundred years forward…but we’ll let Abigail tell you about it.

Writing is the ultimate escape from me. When I’m writing – as opposed to trying to write, which is a horse of a different color – the whole world fades away. Dishes don’t need to be done, the house doesn’t need to be cleaned, and I don’t have to worry about the latest front-page news, because none of it exists. It’s a haven, a safe harbor from the shoals of life, full of the sunshine of creativity and abundant possibilities in every blank page.

But it’s a very temporary haven, which brings me to the bane of my writing existence: interruptions. A few hours ago I was deep in the throes of powerful fight scene, almost in tears myself along with the heroine, and my son came down, distraught because he had lost one of his games in the war zone we refer to as his room. Now, before you tell me I should set some limits and tell him to look for it himself, let me mention that my son has autism and that for him, this truly was a disaster of cosmic importance. And, since I have a vested interest in him being able to complete his homework without a meltdown, I helped him find his game and came racing back to the computer.

The inspiration wasn’t there. I couldn’t feel my heroine’s sense of betrayal or get inside the head of the hero who is desperately trying to explain himself. But because I really wanted to write, I sat down and wrote. Bland, boring, excruciatingly dull sentences free of any spark of life. They even bored me. And I know from experience that it’s likely to be a couple of days before the characters come alive for me again.

That’s what happens when I get ripped out of the story. Little interruptions are annoying but tolerable – letting the dog out, getting a drink of water, closing the windows to keep out the rain. My characters will usually keep talking in my head through something minor that doesn’t require much thought. But when I have to do something that requires planning and interaction with real life people, they vanish without a trace. To make matters worse, it’s almost painful to be torn out of story when I’m deep inside it. I usually surface with an intense desire to murder the source of the interruption, and while I manage to put that aside, my family will happily tell you – at length – that I am very testy indeed under those circumstances.

That’s why I have my office, which isn’t actually an office. It’s a comfortable coffee shop nearby where nobody interrupts me, plus they provide great tea and dainties on request, something that never seems to happen at home! But that’s not all, because I’m not the only one who uses my office to write. There are a half dozen familiar faces that I’m likely to spot there, hunched over their laptops and typing away with that distant look in their eyes. I don’t actually know most of them beyond a first name and that they’re a writer, too, but I do know one thing about them. When I walk in this evening, I can go up to any one of them and say, “I am going to kill my son,” and they’ll look up and nod sympathetically, perhaps even making the suggestion of using a very sharp knife. We’ve all been there, and that makes us comrades at arms.

Then we smile at each other, and the coffee shop reverts to its other plane of existence as Pemberley, a London alleyway, the sewers of Paris (not for my books!) , and a multitude of other places. All of them with good coffee.

  • How do you handle interruptions? 

Mr Darcy's Obsession Blurb:
What if Mr. Darcy never had the opportunity to propose to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford, and did not meet her again until her circumstances were reduced? In Mr. Darcy's Obsession, Mr. Darcy has an even greater social distance to bridge if he wishes to marry Elizabeth. Add in some Fitzwilliam relations with links to the Prince Regent and the loose morals typical of Regency high society who feel that Elizabeth is the material of which mistresses, not wives, are made, and Mr. Darcy has to make a painful choice between the demands of a decadent society and his personal moral sense. The background of this novel is the morally bankrupt ton which Jane Austen knew well, but did not describe in detail in her novels, perhaps because it was a given to her and her contemporaneous readers. Against this backdrop, the characters of Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet shine brightly as they seek to find an alternative to the bounds of decorum that constrain Darcy's usual marital prospects.  Excerpt
The more he tries to stay away from her, the more his obsession grows... "[Reynolds] has creatively blended a classic love story with a saucy romance novel." -Austenprose

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Abigail Reynolds is a lifelong Jane Austen enthusiast and a physician.  In addition to writing, she has a part-time private practice and enjoys spending time with her family.  Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian, theater, and marine biology before deciding to attend medical school.   She began writing From Lambton to Longbourn in 2001 to spend more time with her favorite characters from Pride & Prejudice.  Encouragement from fellow Austen fans convinced her to continue asking ‘What if…?’, which led to five other Pemberley Variations and her modern novel, The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice.  She is currently at work on another Pemberley Variation and sequels to The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice.  Her newest release is Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, available October 1, 2010.  She is a lifetime member of JASNA and lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two teenaged children, and a menagerie of pets.
You can find Abigail:  Abigail Reynolds Website
Facebook, Abigail's Writing Desk Blog, Austen Author's Blog,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Writing Journey And Lessons Learned

My guest is debut suspense author, Stephen Tremp.

I always enjoy learning about different authors’ journey to publication. We all learn lessons along the way of any career choice. When we apply them, it increases our chances at being successful. No matter what career we’ve chosen, it always involves the ambition succeed, a willingness to work hard, and self-discipline to stay on the course we’ve chosen and make the necessary changes for success. The journey is rarely an easy road to travel but it is worth the time and effort involved.

I didn't always want to be a writer.

From my childhood through teen years I wanted to be an artist. I could draw and paint just about anything; still shots of an old barn back dropped against a harvested field or actions scenes of heroes and villains locked in mortal combat. A lady friend wanted to write children’s stories and mentioned I would be an excellent illustrator. It was only after reading her drafts a transformation began inside of me. I decided what I really wanted to do was write. My journey began. Poems, short stories, and finally a novel that soon turned into the Breakthrough trilogy.

As I began writing every day, I hit the proverbial Writers Block. "Writers Block is when the voices in your head stop talking to you". I found two techniques helpful to overcome this obstacle.

First, I run “What if …” scenarios though my mind. These two words have inspired writers and poets to pen masterpieces that are now considered literary classics. I have taken this same premise and developed a trilogy. What if there has been a breakthrough in some of these scientific theoretical theories (what physicists believe may be true but cannot be verified in the lab). What if the discovery has been stolen and used to kill innocent people. What if a hero needs to rise up and put an end to technology gone too far before he is killed?

Also, here's a little exercise I do too. I ask myself a question, "What would I be if I could be anything other than a writer?" I would be a tour guide at a reknown museum like the New York Metropolitan, the Louvre Museum in Paris, or the British Museum. I would love to talk to people all day about art, history, and culture.

Okay, now what can I do with this?

There have been great books and movies with a museum as a setting. Dan Brown's Angels and Demons begins and ends in a museum. The Thomas Crown affair with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo was a very good movie about a rich and successful playboy who amuses himself by stealing artwork. Loved Night at the Museum with Ben Stiller.
So now the gerbil in my head is once again running inside the wheel and I'm thinking again. I can sit down and begin writing something, even if its just a chapter.

As with all authors, I've had my disasters and thrills.  One of my thrills was last year at Mission Viejo Reader’s Festival (Mission Viejo, CA), I had the pleasure of meeting readers, signing my books and I met some very interesting people. Later in the day, Dean Koontz was to speak. I was there, not just to hear him speak, but to meet him afterwards, have him sign a book, give him a copy of Breakthrough, and take a picture with him. I was four for four, hitting for the cycle. This is definitely one of the high lights of my young writing career.

I don’t know if he will keep my book, let alone read it. I would imagine he receives manuscripts and books every day in the mail from his fans. But who knows, maybe after one of his 80-100 hour workweeks, spending time with his family, and taking care of business, he’ll find time to read and enjoy Breakthrough.

I've learn a lot in my writer's journey and one of the most important things is having the support of your family. I would like to thank my wife and family for supporting me during these past three years of researching, writing, and promoting BREAKTHROUGH. Often, all they see of me is the back of my head as I’m writing. But I always allow them to interrupt. I never tell them, “I’m busy.” I’ll take a few moments, answer a question, solve a problem, or ask them to let me find a breaking point, and then they can have my undivided attention.
  • What have you learned in your writing journey? Or if you're not a writer, in your career's journey?
Sia, thank you for inviting me to be a guest blogger. And thanks to everyone stopping by. It’s been a pleasure meeting you all.

Breakthrough blurb:

A scientific breakthrough of such magnitude it could radically alter the future of humanity—for better or worse—is in the wrong hands~ * ~ * ~

The Information Age is moving at breakneck speed. Breakthroughs in areas of science that were once fodder for science fiction are now becoming part of our everyday life.

A group of graduate students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology has stolen a breakthrough in opening and stabilizing Einstein-Rosen Bridges, commonly known as wormholes., that allows them to instantly transport people from one location to another. Their goal is to assassinate any powerful politician and executive controlling the world’s banking system that would use this technology for their own greedy gain rather than the advancement of mankind.

In south Orange County, California, young Chase Manhattan, part of a new breed of modern-day discovery seekers, seeks to leave behind his life of danger and adventure and settle down as an associate professor of physics at University of California-Irvine. He also desires to build a lasting relationship with a beautiful woman he has not seen since high school.

His idyllic plan is postponed when he soon uncovers the diabolical scheme on the other side of the country. He realizes he is the one person who can prevent more murders from happening and either control or destroy the technology. Once the M.I.T. group understands Chase and his friends have the ability and motivation to not only take the technology from them, but also thwart more killings, Chase finds himself in their crosshairs, the top-of-the-list target on their assassination agenda.

As the death toll mounts, Chase and his friends must battle this group of misled zealots from M.I.T. on both coasts and in cyberspace in a thrilling, desperate race to determine the outcome of this monumental, once in a millenium discovery that will drastically change life as we know it—for better or worse. You can purchase Breakthrough as soft bound or e-book here

Stephen has a B.A. in information systems and an MBA degree in global management. He is currently completing his doctorate program in business administration.

Stephen spent over ten years in consumer finance for some of the largest companies in the industry, holding numerous management positions. After many years of writing short stories and poems, Stephen has taken the last two years to fulfill his lifelong passion: write and publish Breakthrough.

He has four more suspense thrillers to follow.

Monday, September 20, 2010


When I was a kid I loved stories set around myths. I don’t know how many books I’ve read in my lifetime on various pantheons of gods and goddesses. I loved the worlds set around them. Magic and lore. 

I've always loved Boris Vallejo's work.
My imagination was always fired by stories of mythical animals and things like the mythical world of fairies and elves of the Celtic lore. I collected pictures or checked books out of the library and drew or painted some of the pictures or pictures based on what I read from my imagination from these stories. Much of my artwork through my teen years involved women warriors with various magical creatures, some not from this world but from portals opening into alternate worlds. I made up a lot of stories about such worlds. To me finding and taming a magical creature always held a special appeal Hagrit (from Harry Potter) and I are kindred spirits. Probably because I had a close affinity to animals to begin with and just imagine one with magic or telepathy (which all my imagined creatures had). Lol!

Dragons have always held special place in my heart. I love them. I have a dragon mascot sitting on my computer in my office. I have posters too. I’m afraid I was highly incensed with the perception of dragons being something that brave knights killed. Uh, no. To me dragons were majestic and honorable. It wasn’t until I was well into adulthood that a friend, who was involved with astrology and in the process of learning all about the Chinese end of things, told me I was a dragon. Hmmm, okay, makes sense.

I was visiting my brother over the weekend and I talk about stories I think of or ideas—very normal for me because I always told the *little kids* stories as we grew up. They were my captive audience. They cheered ohh and aahhed and begged for more.

 My brother reminded me of a series of stories I made up and told to them about shifters like wolves and cougars, cats with magical powers, and my mighty dragon warriors. You know, I’d forgotten much of it until he reminded me of one his favorite stories. My other two brothers were there and reminded me of my stories of Merlin, King Arthur and the round table and the very unique knights. Women warriors also figured pretty prominently in these tales. It was fun listening to them recount various stories I told.

My son, who will be sixteen shortly, was all round eyed. He told them of the stories I’d tell him when he was three onward about Lobo the wolf. Lobo was the protector of Jake in all the stories and adventures. Of course, my son found all sorts of trouble and hairy situations to get into when he was little and I wished I had a Lobo to watch over him. Lobo was loosely based on my own half Husky/wolf, Micah. But unlike Micah, Lobo was telepathic. He then told them about this really cool story idea I had been talking about to him the past few months and this time he added elements to the story. Will I write it? I’m in the process of another one right now, but I do have this one and the world outlined, so yes, I probably will soon.

  • Don't you love imagination? So what fires your imagination?

Luis Royo is another favorite of mine and of course it's a woman warrior.